The Twin Elections, legislative and municipal elections will take place on February 09, 2020, in Cameroon. This came too early after both elections were extended twice, in line with Article 15 of the Constitution of Cameroon – first extension; for twelve months, starting on October 15, 2018, and then the second extension; for about four months, taking effect on October 15, 2019, until February 09, 2020, but Cameroonian people are still left in shallow of doubts as to whether the election would be postponed again or not as violence and murmur of some leaders of political parties could be heard either to boycott the upcoming elections and or to simply request their postponement. Some leaders of political parties are also looking up to set terms and conditions for their participation as if they were not acquainted that the extensions were defined by law.
His Excellency Paul Biya, the President of the Republic has on November 10, last year, complying with strict legal provisions, assembled the electorate that the Constitution of Cameroon plainly laid down the terms and conditions for the extension of elections, especially in the period of immense threats or crisis at the instance of elections. Section 170 of the Electoral Code clearly provides that with reference to Municipal Councilors – “if need be, the President of the Republic may, by decree, extend or abridge the term of office of municipal councilors for a period not exceeding 18 (eighteen) months.”
To say less, the peaceful feasibility of the twin elections is yet to be stamped, because despite separatist fighters in western Cameroon that have last year kidnapped at least 40 candidates for both parliament and local councils – in order to derail February elections, there is still afresh kidnap of “5 officials of Cameroon’s main opposition in the restive Anglophone region”. Despite the government’s promise to free the hostages – mostly candidates and election officials, separatists are punishing them “for defying their warning that no one should vote or be a candidate in the joint local council and parliamentary elections.”
It could be recalled that last year, on December 2, there was a press release from the government of Cameroon – a statement of Minister of Communication, René Emmanuel Sadi, during a joint MINCOM – MINAT Press Briefing in Yaounde that buttressed the prescribed “measures that are necessary to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections in the Regions.” But despite calling for all “leaders of political parties to demonstrate good faith, civic responsibility and national civic and republican conscience, to devote their efforts to mobilizing militants to honorably take part in the upcoming polis, which are the only instruments to confer the legality and legitimacy needed to conduct public affairs” – indicating that all the candidates should partake in the twin legislative and municipal elections of February 09, apart from the constraints they are facing, the difficulties they are facing which made them fall in love trying boycott the upcoming elections, the separatists are still waxing their power stronger.
Some part of the press release claimed thus – “the Government, therefore, urge the leaders of the political parties to be responsible, to take into account the collective destinies of their respective political families, as well as the individual aspirations of their supporters, whose enthusiasm and determination to take part in the upcoming twin legislative and municipal elections were felt as soon as the electorate was convened. Meanwhile, the Government condemns all maneuvers that amount to blackmail and oneupmanship, and denounces the various foreign attempts to interfere, which are in violation of our laws, and which are advocating further postponements, indefinite postponements, of announced legislative and municipal elections.”
However, the separatists “have rejected the proposed special status, saying they want nothing but an independent state”. The tension continued with a series of civil disobedience at the instance of this upcoming election as separatists “have vowed to disrupt the elections in the Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest where they want to create an independent nation.”
Feasibility: there might be “Crash After Clash”
Separatists were reported to have been fighting since 2017 to “detach English-speaking Northwest and Southwest Cameroon from the rest of the country and its French-speaking majority.” and Cameroon’s government opined that the regions were dainty with tranquility to hold the elections, but series of kidnap continued at the instance of candidates running for council seats who were mostly in Northwest town of Jakiri.
Despite the fact that the elections “have been postponed twice and the law prohibits another postponement, some political party leaders, amidst fear, “have threatened to boycott the elections or to demand their postponement.”
The Government’s assurance can be said to be as useless as ladies’ monthly period because despite assuring security for citizens, voters for the upcoming elections, that “all measures to ensure the reliability of the electoral process will be taken, in order to enable voters to exercise their civic duty by voting freely and in complete peace of mind”, most voters and candidates, especially recently, three were reported to have been kidnapped in the Northwest town of Bamenda for being in possession of voter cards.” as over 30 candidates of English-speaking have resigned amidst “the separatist threats and attacks on them and their property.”
AllAfrica reported that two leading opposition parties in Cameroon have declared they will boycott the February 2020 polls to protest the government’s failure to end the conflict in the English-speaking regions of the country and to effect political reforms.
“Prof Maurice Kamto who came second in last year’s presidential election said his Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC) party will not participate in the election due to the insecurity in the Anglophone regions and weak electoral laws.”
While leading the opposition party in parliament, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), has “also threatened to boycott the elections if peace and security do not return to the English speaking Northwest and Southwest regions by February.”
Recently, Xinhuanet reported that five officials of Cameroon’s main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), have been abducted in Tubah, a locality in Northwest, one of the two troubled Anglophone regions of the country. The report stated those kidnapped were the SDF district chairman of Tubah, Peter Tabah, and four other senior officials of the party.
“Armed separatists who claimed responsibility for the abduction released a video of the kidnapped officials on social media on Thursday, stating that the hostages will remain in their keeping until after general elections scheduled for February.”
It was reported that Prince Ngwese Ekosso, chairman of the opposition United Socialist Democratic Party, says conditions are not at all peaceful enough to hold the ballot.
“There is a need for the resolution of the conflict before we can be able to venture into elections in Cameroon. The country is going through one of the worst crises and the separatists have made their point the tension is going to continue.” He said.
While Cameroon’s minister of territorial administration, Paul Atanga Nji, reiterating government efforts, says the government has been trying to free the hostages so that the elections would take place as scheduled.
“In the Northwest and Southwest, the head of state [President Paul Biya] has given firm instructions to the minister of territorial administration, to the minister in charge of defense, that we have to do everything that it takes for these elections to hold properly. It is just but normal that we will uplift the security network in those two regions before, during, and after the process,” he said.
However, the pregnant clouds of this upcoming elections are an illusion as no one knows what could be born out of it as some lawmakers are already opining that “only the creation of federal states, one in the English-speaking regions and the other in the French-speaking areas, can stop the separatist war that has killed more than 3,000 people.”