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Apathy Yet Enthusiasm for Sunday's Cameroon Elections

The people of Cameroon will vote this Sunday – July 22nd - in parliamentary and municipal elections. The main opposition Social Democratic Front of John Fru Ndi is promising victory over the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party of President Paul Biya, provided the elections are free and fair.

Nkemayang Paul Foanyi is publisher and managing editor of the Headlines newspaper and also a member of the National Communication Council. From Limbe, in southwest Cameroon, he told VOA that there is apathy but yet enthusiasm about Sunday’s twin elections.

“What I would like to let you know is that a lot of Cameroonians have been very enthusiastic for one reason: The government decided to computerize the voter registers following pressure from the international community, notably the American Embassy in Cameroon and the French Embassy and the British. They thought that democracy should really mean democracy its real meaning. But this is still a big problem because there are some areas where you can’t actually do this computerization. But the big problem is voter apathy. Most people believe that whether they go for election or not, the ruling CPDM will win,” he said.

But Foanyi said he does not think any attempt by the ruling CPDM Party to rig the elections would succeed this time around.

“In my opinion, from what I have seen, this is not the case. I see a lot of running around, canvassing for people’s vote, house-to-house campaign, television and radio campaigns, as well as newspaper. So I think Cameroonians have awoken, and they are thinking that if the opposition can take the greater of parliament, there would be changes in the country,” Foanyi said.

An official of the National Elections Observatory has reportedly warned against the use of what he called ambulant voters who he said are ferried from the major cities to vote in the provinces during each election.

But Foanyi said he does not think ambulant voting would be possible during Sunday’s twin elections.

“The problem is that people move from one station to the other to vote. You carry people from vehicle to vehicle to go and vote. But fortunately, as I am saying, I think that would be greatly reduced because most voter registrars have been computerized. It used to happen before, but I don’t think that is going to happen,” he Foanyi said.

He said women’s participation in Sunday’s elections has also been enhanced.

“About a year before this election, an NGO was formed in Duala headed by one Kawala where she thought that they could have 100 women parliamentarians and 50 women mayors. But we have quite a number of them now competing. For instance in Limbe where I am, we have a lady parliamentarian who is standing for election. Just next door, we have the second vice president of the national assembly who is going for her third term. So we have for now quite a number of women, if they succeed on Sunday, that will be going in,” Foanyi said.