Officials of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM, have decried the low turnout of potential voters in the ongoing biometric registration exercise.
This was the highlight of a meeting the Littoral ELECAM Board member, Thomas Ejake Mbonda, and his collaborators, held in Douala on January 17, with local political party officials, civil society leaders and elite of the Wouri Division.
Ejake Mbonda as well as the Wouri ELECAM Divisional Coordinator, Emmanuel Kouadiba, said the low turnout is disturbing.
The officials said the targeted number of potential voters in the Littoral is over 800.000, with over half of the number found in Douala (Wouri Division).
They, however, disclosed that as of that January 17, more than three months into the exercise, only 289.000 potential voters have been registered in the Region.
As for Wouri Division, it was disclosed that barely 180.400 potential voters, who constitute 32 percent of the target number, have been registered.
Despite the disappointing statistics, Ejake Mbonda insisted that the registration exercise in the Littoral cannot be considered a failure.
According to him, if all the other actors join forces with ELECAM to mobilise the population before the February ending deadline, the Region will attain the target number of potential voters.
The meeting degenerated into tirade of accusations between ELECAM and local party officials when it got to the point of diagnosing the causes of the apathy.
ELECAM was accused of poor communication of the institution’s field trips and non-respect of their calendar of activities.
The election management body was also accused of making inadequate field trips and of being biased in the registration process, in favour of the ruling CPDM.
On their part, ELECAM officials accused some local opposition party officials and civil society leaders for campaigning against the exercise, by calling on the population to boycott the exercise.
Opposition parties were also accused of doing little to mobilise their militants to register.
ELECAM officials said some local party officials continue to collect the national identity cards of militants and bring for registration. They thus, denounced those who do this, accusing them of creating confusion as well as slowing the exercise.
Nonetheless, some opposition party leaders like Barrister Jean De Dieu Momo of PADDEC blamed the situation on voter apathy.
Momo, a candidate at the 2011 Presidential election, argued that voter apathy is the main cause of low turnout in the country.
He attributed the apathy to Cameroonians’ loss of confidence in the electoral system, because, according to him, it cannot guarantee credible elections.
Momo said the key strategy to boost registration as well as participation in elections is reform of the electoral system.
Many other complaints were raised by representatives of political parties and civil society groups. Some faulted the slow pace of issuing of national identity cards.
The Mayor of Manoka (Douala VI), Ernest Edimo, complained that his sub-division, which comprises a number of islands (fishing villages), is enclaved, as access to all the villages is only by water.
He noted that it is very difficult to carry out voter registration in the sub-division.
It was observed that the number of biometric kits at ELECAM’s disposal in Wouri Division is quite inadequate.
Proposals made at the meeting included a call on political parties to sensitise their militants to register.
ELECAM was urged to use the local media to regularly sensitise the population on their activities.
While closing the meeting, Ejake Mbonda assured that ELECAM will do everything possible to ensure that a maximum number of Cameroonians of voting age are registered before the end of February.
He urged political parties and civil society groups to collaborate with ELECAM, to mobilise the population to take part in the registration exercise.
He announced that ELECAM is to multiply registration posts across Douala, as part of the strategy to boost registration.
Ejake said as part of the strategy, on Monday, January 14, 2013, the Wouri Divisional Coordinator of ELECAM and his collaborators took the registration exercise to the Douala Central Market where they installed biometric kits to register traders who live in the five different sub-divisions that constitute Douala.
Ejake Mbonda also disclosed that the institution will in the coming days reach out to all major markets across Douala, church premises and mosques.
- Another 3 men in Cameroon jail for homosexuality (76crimes.com)