Cameroon Regional Elections: Legitimacy Questioned

By Njodzeka Danhatu

The legitimacy of Cameroon´s regional council elections has been questioned on grounds that they lacked contestation of political ideologies.

Cameroon on Sunday, December 6, organized the first ever regional council elections. 

The elections are coming against the backdrop of the crisis rocking the two English speaking regions.  

The atmosphere in these two regions, according to some media reports, was marred by gunshots. 

Separatists in these two regions had earlier declared a ban on any elections.

Despite the sounds of guns heard in some towns as reported by some online news platforms, Cameroon’s Interior Minister, Paul Atanga Nji said the voting atmosphere was serene and calm.

The elections convened by Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, were boycotte d by some opposition political parties – Social Democratic Front and Cameroon Renaissance Movement.

Legitimacy in check

The manner in which the elections were conducted, especially in the Anglophone regions has left some people to question its legitimacy.

Ambe Kingley is a PhD law student in the University of Bamenda. He said the election does not give room for political plurality, given that Cameroon is a democratic state. According to Ambe, the mandate of the elected councillors is questionable. 

He argued that from the manifestos presented by the CPDM that ran unopposed in the Anglophone regions, it could be said that those who participated went in for their personal aggrandizement.

“In a true democracy, there is internal democracy where militants who represent a constituency are voted by political membership in that party from their primaries and that was not was seen.”

Ambe alleged that there were elites who either chose their family members, friends and at the end of the day, “we get the kind of leadership….input and the output that are not credible….That´s why you see that it may not be legitimate.”

TWIF NEWS, however, cannot confirm these claims.

Since it was a single horse race, it does not give room for competition, he stated.

The Law student said the elections were monopolized by the CPDM where no political ideologies were debated, leaving the people with no choice than to subject. “At the end of the day, you see that the legitimacy is questioned” he said.

He said the mandate of the municipal councillors who went and voted is questionable. “The eligibility to contest for an election is not the ability to lead properly.” This, he added is as a result of the manner in which the people were selected. 

Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the Anglophone General Conference, Elie Smith, said the legitimacy of the elections cannot be doubted. “It was legitimate. We are in a democracy.”

He intimated that political parties that boycotted it committed a monumental error. 

He went further to explain that if legitimacy was to be questioned, it should be based on the fact that credible legitimate political parties like the SDF did not participate. But, to Mr Elie Smith, SDF boycotted because of attacks on the party and threats to militants by separatist fighters.

Despite the boycott by the SDF party, some of its councillors in Bamenda and Douala defied party instructions, and voted for regional councilors in their various areas.

Though the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) contested unopposed in the North West and South West regions, it was not the case in other regions of the country.

Some people hold that, the elections were the outcome of the Major National Dialogue, while others say it has just been delayed since it was in the constitution since 1996.

“It is a kind of devolution of power. If effective decentralization is implemented, it is going to mark the beginning of an end to violence” said Elie Smith.

Published by TWIF NEWS

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