Cameroon to hold first Regional Council elections amid petitions and boycott

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Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), the electoral body in Cameroon, says about 10 political parties have provided required documents for the regional elections on December 6, 2020.

Erik Essousse, ELECAM Director General, made the disclosure at a press conference on Wednesday in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde. He said about ten political parties would take part in the December 6 polls.

 “With regards to the divisional delegates to be elected by the municipal  councilors, 27 out of the 58 constituencies will compete. While on the side of the traditional leaders, it will have 24 constituencies out of the 58 which record at least two competing lists,” Essousse told reporters.

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Over 10,000 Municipal councilors were elected in February this year and traditional rulers form the electoral colleges.

However, ELECAM says that there will be some cleaning up of the registers. “There have been deaths; there are those who have chosen to go to the college of traditional chiefs to avoid duplication. In general and concerning the two colleges, we are about 24,000 voters ”, the Head of ELECAM affirmed.

As far as the material preparation is concerned, Erik Esssousse told journalists, “Currently, the general management is preparing to receive the files which will be transmitted no later than next September 27, to the Electoral Council which will meet from this day within the framework of the 2nd ordinary session as of right, since the convocation of the  electoral college. This with a view to the publication of the lists of candidates no later than October 7, 2020 .”

87 year old President Paul Biya who came to power in 1982 called up the first Regional elections in Cameroon on September 2, 2020. Each of the country’s 10 regions will have 90 members; that is 70 divisional delegates and 20 traditional rulers.

The poll has been  received with mixed feelings by some opposition political parties calling for boycotts, among them the Social Democratic Front SDF and the Cameroon Renaissance Movement CRM. Joshua Osih, 1st Vice President of the SDF told TODAY NEWS AFRICA that, the party’s decision to boycott the election even after taking in the February 9, 2020 Municipal election is hinged on the fact that the Supreme Court is yet to rule on petitions calling for the annulment of the polls in the Anglophone regions of the North West and South West where Government forces and secessionist fighters have been clashing for close to four years now.

“The conditions under which elections were held were not good. Many of our voters have fled violence. But soldiers and some government workers are compelled to vote Mr Biya’s CPDM party, enabling them to win unjustly. We cannot have Regional representatives who do not reflect the aspirations of the people.” Osih lamented

For the CRM priority must be given to concrete resolution of the separatist conflict in the North West and  South West regions. Barrister Christopher Ndong, Secretary General of the party cries out that, “Holding election o the blood of English speaking compatriots means Mr Biya has no regard for Anglophones.” This explains why the party leader Maurice Kamto called for anti -Biya demonstrations earlier this week where over 400 people have been arrested.

The Cameroon President however believes that, the Regional Councils constitute the culmination to the establishment of institutions inscribed in the 1996 Constitution making Cameroon a unitary Decentralized state. 

According to the National Communication Secretary of the CPDM, ” This election will finally see the birth of the Special Status for Anglophones who want autonomy for their regions.” But Osih argues that it is a smoke screen. To him “Paul Biya is obsessed with centralizing power and dictating to the masses.”

Despite the challenges, ELECAM has vowed to continue with the elections calling on internal and external actors to support.

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