Cameroonians are expected to head to the polls on Sunday, December 6th, 2020, for the country’s first ever regional elections.
This was made known in a presidential decree No. 2020/547 of the 7th, of September 2020, signed by President Paul Biya, 87.
The decree which came as a surprise to many, states that the mandate of elected representatives will run for five years. The announcement comes at the time when leading opposition figures in the country have intensified calls for boycott – requesting for political reforms and solutions to the Anglophone Crisis.
The Regional Election Explained
According to the provisions of the electoral code, there are two electoral colleges, as regional councilors could be delegates of divisions elected by indirect universal suffrage or representatives of traditional rulers elected by their peers.
While delegates of divisions shall be elected by an electoral college comprising municipal councilors, “the representatives of traditional rulers shall be elected by an electoral college composed of first, second ad third class traditional rulers whose designation has been approved in accordance with the regulation in force” the national station reports.
Given that some traditional rulers hold the position of municipal councilors, they shall be called upon to cast their votes in only one electoral college.
“Delegates of divisions shall be elected through a mixed single ballot comprising a majority system and a proportional representation system. The vote for representatives of traditional rulers shall be of a single candidate majority system.”
CRTV’s George Kelong further explains that “while the 90 councilors in the 8 French-speaking regions of the country will be called upon to meet in their respective regional councils, the institution in the North West and South West regions will be known as a Regional Assembly comprising two houses … the house of divisional representatives with 70 members and the house of chiefs with 20 members in each of the two regions.”
With the election date announced, municipal councilors and traditional rulers are expected to begin expressing their desire to contest in the upcoming process.
National Dialogue Outcome: Way Out Of Anglophone Crisis?
A bloody gun battle triggered by an independent quest has torn the Central African nation apart. Pro-Independence Advocates have insisted that their freedom must become a reality after they proclaimed an independent state called Ambazonia in 2017.
An estimated 3.000 people have died while over one million persons have been displaced within and out of Cameroon. In a move to calm flaring tempers, President Paul Biya who has been in power for nearly four decades organized a national dialogue. Separatist advocates described the talks as “a sham”.
But within the Yaounde administration, resolutions arrived at during the dialogue forum were enough to resolve the Anglophone crisis which is now in its fourth year.
Lauding the initiative, the spokesperson for the Major National Dialogue, George Ewane says it comes to fulfill one of many recommendations of last year’s Major National Dialogue.
“Although it might have taken time, the length of time is justified by the diligence and finesse that the head of state wanted to bring to this elections,” he said.
To him, another justification is the “reinforcement of responsible participation of Cameroonians in the management of public affairs.”
“It is through these elections that these regions North West and South West] therefore take full shape with regional assemblies, house of chiefs and all the advantages of local development that go with it” he added. This to him is another step towards enhancing peace in the troubled Anglophone regions.
Coming days after the inaugural session of the follow-up committee of the major national dialogue, the announcement of regional elections comes amidst a tense political atmosphere.
Opposition Threats Set In
The Social Democratic Front, SDF, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, MRC, and the Cameroon People’s Party, CPP have announced a boycott of the election, threatening to organize street protests. Officials of the opposition parties who acted on an individual basis called on the Yaounde government to address this Anglophone crisis among other issues.
Kamto and Kah Walla hold that a fair and transparent election is impossible with the current electoral laws in place.
Running Gun Battles Intensify In Anglophone Regions
The past one week has been marked by intensified shooting in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon – with no peace in sight.
Communication Minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi issued a statement, condemning the killing of a soldier on September 1st, 2020 – and vowed to dismantle armed groups in the communities wreaking havoc. Critics have remained categorical that a hitch-free election is unlikely to happen.
In the 2018 presidential election, only some 5 per cent of registered voters went to the polls in the Northwest region, according to ELECAM, the official electoral body, and 16 per cent in the Southwest. The figures for the Southwest could be inflated, according to multiple sources
The effectiveness of the election and electoral process remains uncertain,.
Many have maintained that only an inclusive and frank dialogue will solve the war that has raged for close to four years today.
(C) Mimi Mefo Info