Like it or not, one issue that has marked the advent of the New Deal regime of President Paul Biya has been the evolution in electoral processes in Cameroon.
Acceding to the helm of power in Cameroon during a monolithic period, President Paul Biya has taken the country through the Cameroon National Union (CNU) party that he met, to the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party before today’s multiparty Cameroon. The over 200 political parties in the country have since the rebirth of multiparty politics in the 1990s had the possibility to vie for elective positions at various levels.
As if to test the strength and viability of his party followers, Mr Biya gave the first signal in 1988 when access to position within the basic organs was done through elections and not by designation as was the case before. The departure from a list system of elections to posts of responsibility into basic organs, sub-sections, and sections of the party came as forewarning to changes that were to engulf the entire country with the creation of other political parties.
Of course, the ride has been quite smooth. The dawn of multiparty elections under the New Deal has not been characterised by accusations and counter-accusations, complaints of lack of transparency, all translated in the inability of political actors to accept election results. Yet, President Biya has in each of the scuffles steered the ship of State to safe shores.
Openness to new and innovative ideas has accounted for the successes recorded in efforts to overcome electoral differences over the last 34 years of the New Deal.
Initially organised by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, election management in the country moved to a quasi independent body, National Elections Observations (NEO) one and two, before the creation of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM. The body has in the last few years managed elections into local councils, the National Assembly, the Senate and presidential elections, with fewer complaints recorded from participating political parties.
Putting in place a policy of appeasement has equally opened up opportunities to shore up support for his vision for a peaceful Cameroon with those who desire to conquer power going through credible electoral process. Thus, the regular consultations that ELECAM has had with members of the civil society, traditional leaders, political parties and others involved in the electoral process in the country, seem to work out the magic by enabling those who go in for elective positions to be able to accept the outcome with little disagreements.
The enactment of amendments in 2012 that gave rise to a single Electoral Code has further reinforced the level of acceptance that electoral results continue to have in the country under the New Deal. Same as the introduction of the transparent ballot box, and other organisational efforts that today give Cameroon clear hopes of a clean political playing field.