News / Africa

    Cameroon to Open Voters List Ahead of July Vote

    Cameroon President Paul Biya leaves the pooling station after voting in Yaounde, Cameroon (2004 file photo).
    Cameroon President Paul Biya leaves the pooling station after voting in Yaounde, Cameroon (2004 file photo).

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    • Clottey interview with John Fru Ndi, leader of Cameroon's main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF)

    Peter Clottey

    Cameroon’s electoral board (ELECAM) has announced it will open the recently compiled voters list Wednesday to enable citizens to correct any discrepancies ahead of the July legislative vote.

    But, John Fru Ndi, leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) said ELECAM has failed to address concerns about the voters register, despite repeated appeals by opponents of the ruling People's Democratic Movement (RDPC).

    “Cameroon is the last country to give in to what the opposition demanded piecemeal.  We are talking of a biometric registration,” said Fru Ndi. “They are going to open the register for new people to register but, of course, the biometric system will not be put in [place].  They will still register people handwritten before they will transfer into the computers.”

    Opposition groups claimed the electoral body refused to correct any discrepancies in the voters list in the run up to last October 9 general presidential election.

    Fru Ndi said both the government and the electoral board refused to implement any suggestions he said will ensure the country’s electoral system is credible.

    Opposition groups rejected the re-election of President Paul Biya after accusing the electoral body of “scientific rigging.”

    “This caused Cameroonians a lot of problems because, during the inauguration of Mr. Biya, no foreign head of state came in,” continued Fru Ndi. “The presidential election last year brought a lot of shame to Cameroon.  Cameroonians wanted to react, but we told them to hold on because, in the world of turbulence, there is no need to go through bloodshed.”

    Fru Ndi expressed frustration with ELECAM after saying the electoral body failed to learn from the experiences of other countries he said organized credible elections.

    “Ghana did it; next door Benin did it.  Nigeria with biometric registration registered 70 million people in two weeks.  We are not talking about something that is out of reach,” said Fru Ndi. “It’s just because Mr. Biya said Cameroon is Cameroon and Cameroon has nothing to learn from anybody, and that tells you that he has to be the head of state for life.”

    Fru Ndi said it is unlikely the electoral body will correct what he has called the blatant errors in the voters list.

    He attributed Cameroon’s inability to attract “massive foreign” direct investment to poorly-organized elections.

    “Businessmen cannot come to do business in Cameroon because things are kind of blocked and because of bad governance, because any investor coming in will want to know the governance and other things.  And, if all these things are not corrected, I don’t think the country will get the credibility that she deserves,” said Fru Ndi.

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