Enow Abrams Egbe, Chairman of the Electoral Board of Elections Cameroon (ELECAM).
With the upcoming senatorial elections, at what level of preparation is ELECAM?
Thank you very much. We are towards the end of our preparations. Election materials have been put in place. Office materials too have been dispatched. We are transferring them to the different regions of the country as of now.
We are aware electors in the senatorial elections will require some special voters’ cards. Do they have these cards already?
All the voters’ cards have been sent to the various divisions of the country. At the beginning of the week [last week], information from the field revealed that the cards are already there. The role of the Electoral Board of ELECAM is to go down the field to verify whether they are effectively on the ground. But we are confident that the cards are already on the ground.
There have been disturbing reports, especially those coming from the North West and South West regions, that elections may not smoothly take place there due to the present wave of insecurity. What special measure is ELECAM putting in place to circumvent this hurdle?
The polling stations have been relocated to places where they are well secured – public places. We have moved from 191 polling stations to 81. The physically challenged will have access to the sites. We regret the incidents that have taken place in the North West and South West regions of recent. We shall work with administrative authorities to make sure elections take place in all polling stations of the troubled regions in total serenity. Our primordial ambition is to have free and fair election come March 25, 2018. The elections will take place in all the 58 divisions of the country.
How many electors will be taking part in the senatorial elections?
As of date [February 16, 2018], after all the screening, we have 9,666 electors. The polling will effectively take place in 81 stations.
For your first time as Board Chair, you are preparing to organize the first in a series of elections the country is supposed to hold this year. How financially vibrant is ELECAM to carry out the tasks?
All necessary preparations have been done. I want to state vehemently clear the Elections Cameroon is in possession of the financial means to organize all elections for 2018. All activities which have been taking place have been financed by funds put at the disposal of ELECAM by the State of Cameroon. So we have no difficulty as concerns the means.
ELECAM has presented a new software which it will be using to register the files of potential candidates to elections not using the traditional manual procedure. How credible is this system using the software?
We [Board] appreciated this initiative by the Directorate General. The idea behind it is to avoid some lapses in terms of traceability. We don’t want some files to be lost for one reason or the other. However, we thought it was too early to get this application on because there were certain concerns about the software which board members wanted them addressed. So we encouraged the Director General to carry out more studies on it so that we can be ready for other elections with it. For this election, it will be business as usual – manual approach.
Have you taken steps to meet the stakeholders, especially the 22 political parties that have municipal councilors in the country?
We have been doing that. We are just coming back from the field. I think that many people don’t seem to know how the board functions. When we go to the field, we work at the level of sub-divisions where we meet all the electoral stakeholders. We don’t only involve political parties. We have religious authorities, people of the civil society and so forth. From the level of the subdivisions, we move on to the divisions and then to the regions. This year we culminated it with a forum at the national level held in the capital.
Before your appointment, there used to be minor skirmishes in terms of conflict of authority between the Board and Directorate General which affected electoral business. What’s the present temperature at ELECAM?
It is in the past now. Those were human actions. For now I can assure you that we have cohesion in the house. There is collaboration and we are trying to move towards the same targets and goals.