News / Africa

Some Diaspora Voters Cleared to Cast Ballots in Cameroon Election

Cameroon's President Paul Biya (file photo)
Cameroon's President Paul Biya (file photo)

Lawmakers in Cameroon have agreed to changes in the electoral law that would allow some people living outside the country to take part in October's presidential vote. Opponents of President Paul Biya have been pushing the move as part of changes they want before that vote.

Biya is running to extend the power he has held since 1982, having changed the constitution to remove term limits.

The 77-year-old is again facing a divided opposition and is backed by security forces experienced in putting down protests. Changes made in the run-up to this vote have largely favored the ruling party, including shifting the authority to announce results from the electoral commission to the constitutional council.

After years of opponents pushing to extend voting rights to an estimated 5 million Cameroonians living abroad, Biya's party has now agreed, with conditions.

National Assembly Vice President Emilia Lifaka said the new law extends only to those who are duly registered with their local embassy. It does not include Cameroonians with dual nationality or those seeking asylum.

“There are Cameroonians who have applied for asylum," said Lifaka. "You know those Cameroonians will not come up because they have already said they are looking for them in the country. The country is bad. The country is this. So those people who are asylum seekers will definitely not go and register [at the embassy]. That will not be our fault.”

Opposition lawmaker Joseph Banadzem said it is unfair to penalize many of Cameroon's best and brightest who have settled abroad.

“Our compatriots who settled out are those who went and did serious studies, who got good jobs, who even got married to foreigners," said Banadzem. "They have that double nationality. If we don't open up, those are the people who eventually will not vote. And they are the people whose vote would have a lot more meaning in Cameroon.”

Banadzem said Biya's party wants to restrict expatriate voting because most of those living abroad oppose his nearly 30 years in power.

“Those who are out there are those who are generally very critical, generally very objective, impartial and always do things which are right," said Banadzem. "And if they are opposition, it means that the opposition is doing and saying which are acceptable by most of the people around.”

Banadzem said the move to extend voting rights to some expatriates should be accompanied by other changes, including a more independent electoral commission.

“This vote of the diaspora should have meaning. Before you have Cameroonians abroad voting, you must know that the electoral process is proper," he said. "You can not have a fraudulent electoral process and then you let Cameroonians in the diaspora vote.”

Ruling party lawmaker Lifaka said that like anything new, voting abroad will be a work in progress. She said the government is willing to consider extending voting rights to those with dual nationality in the future.

“Most Cameroonians want to be part of the decision-making process in this country. And I think if we get our compatriots who are out of the country to register and vote where they are, I think it is very important. It shows how far our democracy is evolving.”

With just three months to go, Interior Minister Marafa Hamidou Yaya said he will do everything possible to ensure that the new expatriate voting rules are applied for this vote.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid