Ambazonia: Reports Of Irregularities And Violence During The Cameroonian Presidential Elections
After elections were held in Cameroon on Sunday 7 October 2018, the process and aftermath was met with considerable critique. Cameroon radio and television state broadcaster, CRTV, has been exposed by international rights group Transparency International for falsely reporting the group’s presence in the observing of the presidential poll. After CRTW showed videos of acclaimed Transparency International observers, the group has released a press statement stressing that it did not sent a team of observers to the elections in Cameroon. The Anglophone-speaking Ambazonia has been held under tight surveillance by military forces up to the day of the election. On election day, three people are reported to have been shot down in the North West Provincial capital of Bamenda.
the article below was published by Africa News
Cameroon radio and television, CRTV, the state broadcaster has been exposed by international rights group Transparency International, TI, over a report that the group’s observer team had ‘blessed’ the conduct of the October 7 [7 October 2018] presidential polls.
CRTV shared a video that purported to have observers with TI but the group in a press statement said it had not sent a team to observe the polls.
“Transparency International confirms that it has no international election observation mission in Cameroon. A recent television report featuring individuals described as working for Transparency International is false and untrue,” a statement read.
It is the most significant development surrounding the polls since opposition candidate Maurice Kamto declared that he had won a clear mandate from the people.
The former Biya minister had been dismissed by the government describing his move as irresponsible and illegal. Kamto’s coalition ally, Akere Muna, is a former TI top official. He resigned to contest the presidential polls but entered an alliance with Kamto less than 24-hours to the vote.
Voting closed in Cameroon in Sunday evening [7 October 2018] and counting of ballots started in earnest. Main opposition Social Democratic Front, SDF, vowed to police the counting and results declaration process.
But it is the declaration of victory by Maurice Kamto, a former Biya minister that has thrown the process into a state of shock. Kamto who led a two-party alliance involving famed lawyer Akere Muna said the goal of his party had been reached.
The government has yet to officially react to the development but electoral laws suggest that it is an offense to declare oneself winner of the elections. A point that had been stressed by government in the run up to the vote.
Sections of the Electoral System stipulates that the President of the Republic is elected for a seven-year term by universal suffrage and by direct, equal and secret ballot.
According to the Cameroon electoral code, the president is elected by a single-round majority ballot and the candidate having obtained the majority of the votes cast shall be declared elected.
It also states that election will not be complete until Cameroon’s Supreme Court rules on requests for annulment and announces the results.
Cameroonians voted on Sunday [7 October 2018] in a key presidential election which could end or extend the 36-year rule of President Paul Biya, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders.
Polls opened at 0800 local (0700GMT) across much of the country including areas in the restive English-speaking regions. Security has been heightened with armed personnel deployed outside most polling stations.
Reuters reports that three separatists have been shot dead in Bamenda, capital of the northwest region of the country. The northwest and southwest regions have been the epicenter of what has become known as the Anglophone crisis.
A security source told Reuters that the trio had been gunned down for attempting to disrupt the voting process. Separatist groups have vowed to stop the polls from taking place in both regions.
Indeed, Cameroonians in the diaspora are joining in the process of choosing the next president of the country.
Elections body, ELECAM, shared photos of people casting their ballot outside of the country. Among other places, people in Malabo, Cairo, Brussels and Tel Aviv are all voting.
In a surprise and belated move with about 24-hours to opening of polls, two opposition members announced a long-expected alliance. Former Biya-era minister Maurice Kamto agreed a coalition with famed lawyer Akere Muna.
Muna’s correspondence to the elections body, ELECAM, to step down as a candidate was however turned down. He has asked his supporters to vote for Kamto. A reported third coalition member, Serge Espoir Matomba, denied agreeing to join late Saturday [6 October 2018].
Political watchers said despite the coalition being a welcome move, it had come too late in the day but that its impact will be properly assessed after the close of polls and in the stage of results declaration.
The European Union, EU, said it will not deploy observers to Cameroon as it has done in almost all previous votes across Africa.
But the African Union, AU, has a team in the country led by former Togolese Prime Minister, Artheme Ahoomey Zunu Kwesi Agbefia Seleakodji Lolonyo. The EU and UN have all called for peaceful and transparent process.
A victory for Biya, who has ruled since 1982, would usher in a seventh term for the 85-year-old and see him stay until at least the age of 92, bucking a tentative trend in Africa where many countries have installed presidential term limits.
It would maintain a long held status quo in the oil and cocoa producing Central African country where, despite relative economic stability and growth of over 4 percent a year since Biya was last elected in 2011, many of its 24 million citizens live in deep poverty. Most have only known one president.
Of Biya’s biggest challenges has been the year-old uprising in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions that has cost hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee either to the French-speaking regions or into neighbouring Nigeria.
It further complicates Cameroon’s security mix, that is, for a country that is still battling Boko Haram insurgents in its Far North region. A new security region was set up in Bamenda in what was seen as a security solution to the Ambazonian uprising.
Photo Courtesy of IIP Photo Archive