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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs