Analysis by The Post’s Isidore Abah
(Buea-Cameroon) In his 2019 end-of-year address to the nation, President Paul Biya stated unequivocally that the February 9, 2020 twin elections will hold throughout the national territory.
His assertion drowned the dissenting voices which were raised over security concerns in some parts of the country as a deterrent to the elections.
In his address, the Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, said “security measures have been taken to ensure that all our fellow citizens countrywide exercise their voting rights. Where necessary, such measures will be ramped up.”
Yes! True to his promise, the guarantor of peace in Cameroon ordered various armadas of troops to be deployed to the Northwest and Southwest Regions to ‘protect voters’ at all cost.
Governors, Senior Divisional Officers, Divisional Officers, and other administrative and political stakeholders have been mobilised, electoral materials printed and handed over to the military for onward distribution to the various polling centres.
Some Ministers have even unleashed their verbal salvos on Cameroonians, threatening to use the State’s might to crush anybody or group of persons who dares to disrupt the conduct of the polls or attempt to cause bedlam.
Those calling the electoral shots in Cameroon say all is set for the February 9 polls. For example, the Board Chair of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM, Enow Abrams Egbe, in his recent outing affirmed that: “Elections will effectively take place on January 9.” His statement was further corroborated by Territorial Administration Minister, Paul Atanga Nji.
However, the manner in which the Biya regime is organising a serious exercise as choosing the people’s representatives is worrisome, especially in the heat of an armed conflict like the one plaguing the Anglophone Regions.
Besides being fundamental human rights, voting is one of the most critical ways through which individuals can influence governmental decision-making. Local elections like the February 9 Municipal and Parliamentary Elections are critical avenues through which individuals participate in Government.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, is very emphatic on the integral role transparent and open elections play in ensuring the fundamental right to participatory Government.
In Article 21, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to take part in the Government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives…. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
The role that free elections play in ensuring respect for political rights is also enshrined in many international legal instruments like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights among others.
On Tuesday, December 31, 2019, most Cameroonians were enthralled when the President gave lessons on Cameroon’s democratic system to those he considered as political warmongers.
He stated inter alia: “Needless to recall that the sole arbiter in a democracy is the sovereign people. When the sovereign people make a choice through free and fair elections and the results are proclaimed after review of petitions, such results must be recognised and accepted by all…”
Yes, Mr. President, the sole arbiter in a democracy is the sovereign people, but your Government seems to be working against the sovereign arbiter. Of what use will an election be if people cannot freely choose their representatives or leaders?
Is election more important to the Government than the people? Why should Government prioritise elections when the people for whom elections are meant to provide better living conditions are in the bushes wallowing in poverty and misery, while others are in Nigeria begging for crumps just to survive as refugees?
Would it not be better to declare a ceasefire, bring back our fleeing compatriots, organise a peace and reconciliation meeting and then proceed to organise free, fair and transparent elections, so that, the sovereign Cameroonian people will be free to choose their leaders and representatives and by so doing will become the sole arbiter again?
Of what use is voting Mayors, Parliamentarians and Senators, who will be Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs? Would they be executing projects and spearheading Cameroon’s drive to emergence in the comfort of their hotel rooms out of their municipalities and constituencies?
Mr President, at a time like this when Cameroonians are resolute to finally implement the much-trumpeted process of decentralisation after over two wasted decades, it is advisable that all and sundry put hands on deck to make this process work and sail the country out of its present economic trouble waters.
If Cameroonians are the sole arbiter of this country’s democracy like you have rightly articulated, then postpone the elections, declared a ceasefire, bring back our displaced brothers and sister and reconcile the country, so that elections can take place in calm, serenity and collectively, Cameroonians can fast-track your emergence vision for our beloved fatherland.
It is time, Mr President, to dispel those ugly and cheap rumours that since 1992, elections in Cameroon are organised to legitimise your long stay in office, fulfil all electoral righteousness and not for the people to choose their leaders. Yes! It is time to once more make the sovereign people of Cameroon feel that they are the sole arbiter of the country’s democracy. The time to do it is now, else new Mayors and MPs will be imposed on the people and the chaotic situation in Cameroon will remain unchanged.
Culled From The Post Newspaper, Cameroon