Of Democracy And Elections

His Royal Highness, Dr Greg Fah Fombo, Political Science Lecturer, University of Buea.

Cameroon holds three crucial elections in 2019 – council, parliamentary and regional. As the dates approach, various political parties are busy preparing in their own manner, though in a somewhat difficult environment, given the crisis in the North West and South Regions. In the following interview, Dr Greg Fah Fombo, a Political Science Lecturer with the University of Buea examines the situation.

“Elections Advance The Cause Of Democracy”

How significant are the forthcoming local council, parliamentary and regional elections to Cameroon’s democracy?

Cameroon is looking forward to elections this year as part of the scheme to implement the governance structure enshrined in the 1996 Constitution. While Cameroonians are familiar with the politics of legislative and municipal elections, a new contest will be introduced at regional level. If regional assemblies were in place five years ago, the process of filling up seats would have been more eventful in all the two constituent parts of Cameroon. Not now anyway. On the surface or in principle, elections advance the cause of democracy. Indeed, elections are the ultimate way of getting the masses involved in choosing those who will govern them. An electoral process could also, if poorly handled, exacerbate tensions within a polity.

This year’s elections will carry varying implications, depending on whether you are in Anglophone or Francophone Cameroon.

What should political parties do in order to better prepare for these polls?

Political parties are invariably responsive to the electoral calendar in their constituencies. However, political parties by their leitmotif, are out to challenge for political power in the state or constituency as the case might be. The case of Cameroon, under normal circumstances, should be the same. Parties in Cameroon operate in a very difficult environment. The ongoing crisis in the North West and South West Regions may render campaigns difficult. The ruling CPDM has a network of state institutions that support the party, so their case is not as tricky. The SDF, which has since the 1990s held sway in this area is now moribund. This explains to a large extent the poor showing of the main parliamentary opposition party in the 2018 presidential poll. Political parties active east of the Mungo can intensify their grassroots mobilisation ahead of the announcement of the date for the polls.

What are some of the major challenges parties are likely to face during the elections?

The challenges that lie ahead for political parties cannot be overemphasized. The restive North West and South West Regions may be largely out of reach for anyone to go canvassing for votes. However, the ruling CPDM has a network of state institutions that are working in tandem with the party to support it. So it is likely going to “gain” from the crisis. The MRC that came second in the 2018 Presidential poll, is rather focused on the release of their leader and militants that have been arraigned before a military court. The stage is therefore set for the CPDM and its satellite parties in their respective forms and shades to take complete control of the country.




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