An Appraisal of Election Management Bodies in Cameroon
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Elections in Cameroon has always been criticized since the era of multiparty politics, MINATD and NEO who had managed elections before the creation of elecam in 2006 failed to achieve credible elections outcome, calling to question the capacities of the bodies.
Election results have been challenged severally as a result of poor organization of the electoral process, suspicion of collusion with incumbent government to cheat or poor management practices.
This led to the creation of Elections Cameroon which is still being criticized on same bases as MINATD and NEO. ELECAM is one of such EMBs in Cameroon with the responsibility of ensuring credible, free and fair elections for Cameroon.
The problem of this study is to find out how efficient electoral governance is to the extent that it can deliver credible elections and look at what has been put in place to ensure their effectiveness. This study therefore deals with Election Management bodies in Cameroon.
Qualitative research methodology was used for the study. One of the instruments used to carry out the research was interviews with politician’s members of political parties and personal observation.
Elections under ELECAM are not very different from elections organized by MINATD. To an extent, ELECAM is more credible than the MINATD and NEO. For ELECAM to gain the confidence of Cameroonians, it should hold fast on its mission of guaranteeing free and fair elections.
The powers that be should grant ELECAM its independence in order for the institution to live up to its task as a credible election management body in Cameroon.
To solve these problems, MINATD should stay out of ELECAM’s activities so as to gain the confidence of Cameroonians in ELECAM as an election management body.
The appointment and recruitment of staff at various levels of ELECAM should be objective. Neutral persons or civil society personalities should be recruited.
In most parts of the world where liberal democracy is acknowledged as the most suitable form of government capable of meeting the hopes and aspirations of the people, elections are considered as the necessary channels through which the governed elect representatives to act on their behalf as legislators as well as administrators to govern them; and also form mechanisms for resolving conflicts arising from power contests.
Thus, establishing multi-party systems, as proper functioning democratic systems require that elections be effectively managed.
It has been argued that free elections are prerequisites for countries that have suffered harsh dictatorship and lack a tradition of free and fair party competition.In the view of Huntington, the central aim of democracy is the selection of leaders through competitive elections by the people they govern.
The history of election management in Africa since independence has been characterized by a lot of condemnations by the international community and also by election stakeholders.
This situation has rocked the foundations of many states in the continent, culminating in post-election violence, which is a situation where one faction of the political divide, who feels cheated, refuses to accept the verdict of the ballot box following the proclamation of election results and decides to go extreme, leading to bloodshed, the loss of many lives and valuable properties.
This emerges as a result of vote rigging, gross irregularities in the implementation of the electoral laws, abuse of the electioneering process by members of the ruling elite and violence targeted at opposition party militants as a means of intimidation.
This state of affairs has been attributed mainly to the absence of strong, vibrant and credible electoral bodies to manage the elections.
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government”…..When a people are denied the right or opportunity to freely and democratically elect their leaders, the whole electoral process becomes problematic.
This is a common phenomenon in many African States today Cameroon inclusive. Most of these leaders lack the will of real commitment to democracy.
When this happens, the people feel cheated and believe that their destiny cannot be decided through democratic procedures. They, therefore, declare the government illegitimate and resort to taking the laws into their hands as a means to be liberated.
This was the situation in Kenya in 2007, Zimbabwe in 2008 and Ivory Coast in 2011 and Cameroon in 2018 when the MRC chairman PROFESSOR Maurice Kamto declared himself president elect. The outcomes of such post-election Violence are always catastrophic on both sides. That is on the incumbent and the opposition parties.
While some countries such as Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal have attempted to take electoral democracy to the right direction, the continent’s overall election history has generally been plagued by citizen’s dissatisfaction, making some states to be classified as failed states.
Following the reintroduction of multiparty politics in Cameroon in 1990, many elections have been organized ranging from municipal, parliamentary, presidential and the most recent being the regional elections . The outcomes of these elections were hotly contested by militants of the opposition parties, civil society members and international bodies.
The Common wealth and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for international affairs has condemned most of these elections, qualifying them as heavily flawed in favour of the ruling party and failing to reflect the will, hopes and aspirations of the people. This is principally because of the absence of a credible organ to oversee it.
It was against this background that there was a popular call by opposition parties and the international community for the creation of an independent body to organize elections in the country, free from government interference.
Prior to this call, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MINATD) was the sole organ for the management of the whole electoral process till, when the National Elections Observatory (NEO) was put in place.
In an attempt to solve this problem of election malpractices and guarantee a credible ballot, NEO was created but unfortunately only as an observatory body with no real powers to assert its authority on the electoral system and make positive changes as the much criticized MINATD was still given greater powers over future elections.
MINATD dealt with the material organization of the elections, while NEO only supervised the process.
In 2006, the President of the Republic promulgated a law creating Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), an independent body to manage subsequent elections. ELECAM was received with a lot of euphoria and the organ went fully operational in 2010 following the complete transfer of electoral materials from the MINATD/NEO to ELECAM.
This work covers election management bodies in Cameroon with emphasis on Elecams credibility towards achieving democratic goals and mechanisms to endure the effectiveness of the electoral process
In Africa, most EMBs have failed to achieve credible elections outcome calling to the question the capacities of the bodies. This election results have been challenged severally as a result of poor organization of the electoral process, suspicion of collusion with incumbent government to cheat or poor management practices.
Elections Cameroon is one of such EMBs in Africa tasked with the responsibility of ensuring credible free and fair elections in Cameroon.
Democracy has become a universal political concept. As a political process that seeks to make people the ultimate source of authority, multiparty elections are the most attractive aspects of democracy. Today, elections have been carried out in almost all parts of the globe.
Even Africa’s sit-tight leaders have accepted regular multiparty elections. Indeed, cross-national evidence indicates that most Africans prefer to choose their leaders through regular, open and honest elections.
Elections are democratic when they provide universal suffrage conducted using genuine voter lists, adequate electoral materials and when the electoral process is free from fraud, repression or intimidation such that all contestants operate freely, that is, they are participatory, competitive and perceived as a legitimate route to political power.
However, while democratic elections are participatory, competitive and perceived as the legitimate route to political power, experience indicates that not all elections are democratic.
The effectiveness of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) as linchpins of electoral governance capable of securing for a country free and fair election depends to a great extent, not solely, on the factors put together by the International Community as international standards for elections.
Such standards include political rights and fundamental freedoms as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The standards for example, require the creation of autonomous EMBs which are insulated from political control or influence of governments, security of tenure for members of the EMBS, the EMBs guarding against bribery and fraud, upholding the principle of secret ballot, provision of credible voters’ register, avoidance of manipulation of election results and intimidation of voters, and ensuring transparency in the entire electoral process to obtain confidence from participating political parties and general acceptance of election outcomes.
These standards see elections as examples of Human Rights in practice and achieving a democratic electoral process as part of establishing a system of government that can ensure respect for human rights, the rule of law and the development of democratic institutions.
Effective electoral management, therefore, plays a very crucial role in a country’s quest to establish or consolidate its democracy. What then makes electoral governance effective to the extent that it can deliver credible elections?
Three key issues underpin electoral governance, namely: “rule making” which involves designing the basic rules of the electoral competition; “rule application” involving the implementation of these rules to organize and regulate the electoral process; and “rule adjudication” which involves resolving disputes arising within the process.
The major institutions tasked with the responsibility of performing these crucial functions in democratic polity to ensure credible elections, are the EMBs.
The significant role of electoral rules and regulations in managing elections in democratic systems has however either been ignored or neglected in the studies on election management in Cameroon.
The event to which the three levels of electoral governance, namely, rule-making, rule-application and rule-adjudication which are very critical in understanding the successes and challenges of EMBs and how they contributed to the success or failure of election management in Cameroon still remain inconclusive.
How efficient are EMBS in election management in Cameroon
What are the mechanisms to ensure the efficiency of EMBs in Cameroon?
What are the solutions for the efficient functioning of EMBs?
Against the backdrop of the research problem this study seeks to:
Investigate the efficiency of EMBs as an election management body. The efficiency of any emb will depend on the various models used and how the various principles of emb are being applied to the model used. Elecam is an independent electoral commission but does it really apply the rules governing this model.
Examine the mechanisms put in place to ensure the efficiency of embs. Elecam which is the only emb in Cameroon if left without control or overview of their acts may act ultravires reasons why their acts must be reviewed without tempering on their independence then proper solutions for the efficiency of EMBs in Cameroon