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Who Calls the Shot? ENOW or Atanga Nji?
Category :- News Author :- By Mbinglo Gilles Yumo 
Posted on September 28, 2018, 5:06 pm
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An electoral management board must be independent of all other stakeholders who have an interest in the outcome of the elections. This, therefore, means any divergent voice that attempts to say how elections should be run is considered acting against the law.
Barely two days after the official kick-off of Presidential election campaigns in Cameroon, the dichotomy that continues to dictate the rhythm of the October polls has been the role of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM, and that of the Ministry of Territorial Administration.
While ELECAM has been given the legal and financial power by law to conduct elections, the influence of government structures on its electioneering process cannot be overemphasized. In a very difficult socio-political period of the Country especially in the two Anglophone regions which going by events will be difficult for elections to take place in an efficiently, politicians have used the opportunity presented to make political pronouncements.
In Africa, especially, where most governments have a track record of manipulating election results, ELECAM, in order to inspire confidence in the electorate must be seen to be completely independent of the government and must step in to say no to what the government proposes which is against the electoral code.
Going by law, each individual eligible to vote has to do so in the jurisdiction he or she registered. However, due to the crisis, thousands of Anglophone Cameroonians have resulted to refugee status in Nigeria, with other thousands internally displaced in the other remaining 8 regions principally; Douala, Yaounde and Bafoussam.
While ELECAM maintains that the laws are followed as prescribed, which entails voting at the polling station a voter is assigned to, government’s own version takes a different twist.
Going by the Minister of Territorial Administration, Atanga-Nji Paul, whose Ministry acts as government liaison to ELECAM, Cameroonians are expected to vote anywhere provided they have their voting cards and or national identity cards prior to verification from the biometric registry.
Because ELECAM is a public body funded on tax payer’s money, and like all public bodies, they must account for their activities and demonstrate their ability to interpret and apply electoral laws appropriately. In this case, the communiqué from a Divisional Officer banning public campaigns by Cabral Libi and his party will have been an opportunity for ELECAM to intervene and leave a footprint of credibility. This is because the right to participate freely in the government of one’s country is recognized and protected in many international human rights instruments.
So far, it is not clear on how the people of the two English speaking regions will exercise the free expression of the will of the people by a secret and equal vote, through universal sustainable democracy amidst the tension.
Despite the increasing tension of fear, harassment, abduction, intimidation and killings on both sides of the divide in an already fragile democracy and fragmented country, ELECAM and the government seem to be working on the master-servant relationship.
Going by the state of affairs, it is not possible for an effective election to be conducted in these two regions. However, the government has maintained its political position of ensuring free and safe elections amidst the mayhem, meanwhile ELECAM on its part has not been able to come out crystal clear, less than two weeks to elections day whether or not the ground is set for an effective and efficient organization of elections in this part of the country.
Within this confusion, nobody seems to know whether it is ELECAM the body in charge of conducting elections or the government, whose duty is supposed to be that of maintaining security rather than interfering in the election process.
This is coming at a time the 2018 election year has raised concerns, with questions shaping the minds of voters on the outcome of the voting exercise. There is the hypothesis as to whether Cameroonians will vote to constrain President Paul Biya by electing an opposition-led candidate that will challenge and resist him, or will they stick to Paul Biya after more than three decades of reign. 
However, a continuous spike of violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions points to an increase and budding uprising. It is important to understand that preventing more violence in the country’s delicate election year, the government needs to kick-start the political pathway, which favours all parties involved.
Credible elections are today, considered the cornerstone of an inclusive and sustainable democracy. This state of affairs when it comes to fraud and rigging has most often been attributed to the lack of a credible election management body to manage the electoral process in an unbiased, transparent and independent manner. It is therefore in the interest of ELECAM, to demonstrate its ability to dictate the terms of elections and not give room for any government inference if they want the complete support of the people of Cameroon.
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Tagged Keywords: Atanga, Elecam
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