News / Africa

Cameroon’s Polls: Praised by International Observers; Condemned by Opposition

International observers have given authorities in Cameroon a passing mark after monitoring the October 9 presidential election amid widespread opposition allegations of fraud, organizational lapses and elevated voter abstentions. Across the country, many say they expect no surprises. Incumbent President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, is widely expected to win another seven-year mandate.

The national electoral commission is busy compiling results of the ballots filed in from over 24,000 polling stations within the country and overseas, where Cameroonians residing abroad voted for the first time.

A final copy of tallied results will be submitted to the Supreme Court, which will formally announce the winner by October 24.  In the meantime, the court is scrutinizing ten petitions lodged by candidates demanding either the partial or complete annulment of the results.

The petitions include diverse allegations including the failure to properly distribute all voter cards, the late opening of polling stations, multiple voting, ballot-box stuffing, the absence of indelible ink and the intimidation of voters.

A supporter of Cameroon President Paul Biya stands next to a giant election campaign ball in Yaounde, Cameroon, October 8, 2011.
A supporter of Cameroon President Paul Biya stands next to a giant election campaign ball in Yaounde, Cameroon, October 8, 2011.

Edith Kahbang Walla is leader of the Cameroon Peoples’ Party and one of the plaintiffs.  She says she’s pushing for an urgent overhaul of the country’s electoral machinery.

"We have put in a request for cancellation of the election at the Supreme Court," she said. "We’re working with other political parties to see what other actions we need to take and we’re insisting on the need for immediate reform of the electoral system because we saw an electoral system that is simply not functional."

But even within the opposition, many argue the court lacks independence and is at the beck and call of the outgoing president.  At the last election in 2004, eight such petitions were filed but were dismissed by the Supreme Court judges – all named by the president.

Joshua Osih is deputy vice president of the main opposition Social Democratic Front, the SDF.

"Well, it is not because the Supreme Court has its hands tied that we will not entertain them with the cases that we have on hand," he said.

The court will not consider any complaints until the winner is declared.  However, once it does rule on a complaints, its decision can not be appealed.

And despite the opposition criticism of the election management body – Elections Cameroon, or ELECAM, international observers from the African Union, La Francophonie and the Commonwealth have given the election a passing grade.

Fred Mitchell, a former foreign affairs minister of the Bahamas,  led the Commonwealth observer mission to Cameroon.

Cameroon’s Polls: Praised by International Observers; Condemned by Opposition
Cameroon’s Polls: Praised by International Observers; Condemned by Opposition

"We observed the fact that the election was conducted peacefully," said Mitchell, "that people felt no form of coercion to come out to vote, and although there were some administrative and logistical problems, we believe that there was a valued first effort to establish ELECAM as an independent acting body for elections. I think that is something that your country ought to be proud of."

But critics don’t agree.  Many are holding ELECAM responsible for the shortcomings, including voter apathy levels considered to be the highest since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in Cameroon in 1992.  Over 7.5 million voters were expected at the polls Sunday for the one-round ballot, but a civil society organization, Un Monde Avenir, has revealed statistics indicating the turnout rate was below 35 percent, or only a little over 2.5 million.

Jean Simo, a resident of the largest city and commercial hub Douala, says he abstained because he was convinced 29-year-serving Biya and his ruling Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement party, or CPDM, will win.

"In my opinion," he said, "nothing will change because our democracy is so advanced that before going to vote, we already know the results.  It is certain that Mr Biya’s CPDM party will win the election.  So I did not care to go out and vote because that will not change anything."

The outgoing 78-year-old Biya has won all three previous elections since 1990 amid opposition charges of widespread rigging.  In 2008, he eliminated term limits from the constitution to seek reelection this year against a record 22 opponents in the single-round ballot.

Meantime, analysts say several factors have given Biya an edge over his challengers, including the fragmented nature of the opposition, the multitude of candidates and their thin public support as well as nationwide hegemony enjoyed by the ruling party.

Franklin Nyamsi, a political analyst and lecturer at the University of Rouen in France,  says until the opposition forms a common block, political change through the ballot box will remain unfeasible. According to Nyamisi, Cameroonians have partly lost faith in elections because the opposition has proven to be irresponsible.  He says the country needs a truly independent electoral commission to ensure change.

Others argue that the absence of a clear-cut plan of succession leaves the future of the country in doubt with the possibility that foreign powers, including former colonial master France, could impose a successor when the Biya era ends.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid