The chairman of the Electoral Board of Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) says he is impressed with the number of voters registered for next October’s general elections, despite what he called a “timid” start.
Samuel Fonkam said the electoral body is continuing to look for better ways to compile a credible voter list, a process that’s scheduled to end on August 31.
“We are not doing badly, given that we are doing a revision of the voters register, rather than [starting over],” said Fonkam. “We are in the neighborhood of 1.7 million new persons who have registered, which I think is very good.”
More than five million registered Cameroonians were eligible to vote in the 2007 general elections. Fonkam said this registration drive makes it possible for the electoral body to “clean up” and compile an accurate list.
By law, Cameroon citizens must present a national identity card to register. But analysts say the card, which costs more than $10, is too expensive for the average Cameroonian.
As a result, he said, some people don’t register.
Local media say after several complaints, the government – for now – is issuing them at no cost. Fonkam praised that decision, saying it’s led to an increase in the number of registrations.
The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), has threatened to disrupt the upcoming vote, citing what it says were irregularities in the registration drive.
John Fru Ndi, leader of the SDF, said the electoral commission is not independent and that will undermine the credibility of the election.
But, Fonkam insists ELECAM is working to ensure a transparent election.
“There are a number of things we are doing to be ready by the time the elections come up in October,” said Fonkam. “Orders have been placed for electoral material and our staff in the field [has] been given some instructions as for their own preparedness for the exercise.”