THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATE IN PROMOTING DEMOCRACY THROUGH ELECTIONS IN CAMEROON
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This work aimed at examining the Role Of The United State In Promoting Democracy Through Elections In Cameroon public or private sectors. From the analysis of findings, the study “The role of the United States in Promoting Democratic Elections in Cameroon” discovered that the longstanding diplomatic relations between these two states has led to a massive contribution by the U.S in the Cameroonian political scene. The U.S of the liberal theory actually explained to us the political dimension of the theory in the realm of democracy in line with elections which is seen as agenda for the promotion of civil and political rights by advance western capitalist democracies such as the U.S. it should equally be noted that election is seen as a test and a yard stick of legitimate authority.
From those interviewed, U.S.’ contributions to Cameroon in assisting her to conduct democratic election consist of varied domains such as provision of elections materials, training of election monitors, equipping the media on election reporting, organization of seminars with stock holders of the election management body and schooling of the security forces. From this wide domain of U.S assistance, the elections at times are declared democratic, however marred by serious pre and post-election irregularities.
Beginning from the late 1980s the has been a gradual but concerted attempt to reverse the trend of political despair and disillusionment which hitherto characterized political life in Africa. The quest for political liberalization culminated in the demand for political pluralism and democratization. Pro democracy hit Cameroon like a tidal wave in the 1990s sweeping away the one party system that had dominated the Cameroon political hemisphere since independence.Liberal democracy and political liberalization was slow as compared to economic liberalization,besides market reforms as a result of structural adjustments programs which are the new puzzle words in the global agenda for over fifty year.The long standing diplomatic relations between Cameroon and the United states have grown in leaps and bounds with huge benefits particularly reaped by Cameroon. With the promotion of democracy as one of the cardinal capitalist foreign policy,the U.S has been instrumental in strengthening the promotion of democracy especially in the dormain of free and fair elections. Human rights,freedom of press and liberal economy around the globe especially with countries that share diplomatic relations. The study however sought to find out or investigate the role of the United states in promoting democracy through elections in Cameroon
The quest for political and economic goals has been of great importance to the states since the inception of state hold after the Westphalia treaty of 1648, thus the state was seen as the sole actor in international relations. The period after the end of the cold war, when observers would invariable named France, the united states of America, as the only foreign powers to have substantial interest in sub-Saharan Africa are drawing to a close (Shiverly, 2005:394). The emergence of international organizations (IOs), individuals, Multinational Corporations (MNCs) as secondary actors signaled that the state’s dominance in the international arena is declining. Realis underscore that states pursue both political and economic goals and that both these political and economic goals can easily be pursued by states (Lieber et al, 1972:46). Realist scholars hold the view that when states cooperate in varied areas, they equally get involved in politicized activities.
For some time, “Democracy” has been in vogue in the global south. This is to be understood within the context of the so called “Democratic revolution” or “Third wave” of democratized (Huntington, 1991:11) Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and the triumphant emergence of the U.S and its Allies as unipolar global powers, there has been tremendous pressure on countries of the global south. Hitherto littered with military and one-party dictatorships and personal rules. These countries were forced to abandon their “Old ways” and embrace liberal democracy, the kind of democracy practiced in the west but now foisted on weaker states as a precondition for aid and, productive cooperation. Foreign pressure coincided with, or reinforced, domestic clamors to push regimes to concede to democratic reforms (Schmitz, 2004:403).
The concept democracy has become the major buzzword in aid policy and development thinking today (Jiberto et al, 2004:19), it even seems to have dethroned sustainable development as the international policy maker’s mantra. Conceived within the world bank, the concept has been embraced by the government of western countries and by the international monetary fund(IMF) and the World bank(WB) as both a goal and a condition sine-qua-non for official development assistance. However, with the ending of the cold war a new discourse on democracy, good governance and the political systems arose, unemployment, poverty, income disparities’ and sudden rise of the parallel economy, black ‘marketers’ and criminal networks in recently ‘neo-liberalized’ countries particularly the former Soviet Union and large parts of Africa prompted the idea that global neo liberalism could only successfully proceed in a sound governance environment(Jilberto et al, 2004:20), it was not the neoliberal model that was blame for the lack of progress in democratic reforms, but rather the immature, corrupt and inefficient state administration. From the early 1990’s onwards, the call for less state involvement in aspects of democracy has gradually by a call for a greater state participation (Jilberto et al, 2004:21).
Clough (1992:23) states that this new approach to democracy should be confused with a plea for s return to the strong (Keynesian or socialist) state. Rather it implies better and transparent governance of what is left of the state after neoliberal restricting has been implemented. Often, the emphasis on good governance was combined with a call for democratization. As with sustainable development, the global fashion of democracy has proven hard to resist. In both political and academic circles, the concept has easily spread and apart from irritating some sensitivity in developing countries about new mechanisms of imperialist interference, it has largely been well received (Harvey, 2005:4). But then who would be against a rather broad and vague concept like democracy with all the variants attached to it?
By the year 2000, democracy had been globally accepted as a panacea to achieve both development and poverty reductions is shown by the world leaders adoption of the United Nations Millennium declaration. However, democracy is by no means univocal concept. The foggy and positive aura surrounding democracy often blurs the fact that the concept includes at least three different views on development (Leftwich, 1993:12).
Needless to say, many Africans have been disappointed by the lack of what they hoped would be the beginning of a more robust and refined U.S. Engagement with Africa. U.S. focus in Africa include health, sustainable development, counter terrorism, military and strategic partnership, conflict resolution, and democratization and good governance.
Cameroon-US, ties dates back in May 1957, when Robert C foulon was appointed Consular Officer to Cameroun, and a U.S. Consulate was opened at Yaoundé on July 5, 1957. On April 10, 1959, the Consulate became a Consulate General. According to the U.S development of state, press release issued on January 5, 1960, “the American Consulate General at Yaoundé, Cameroun, was elevated to an Embassy on January 1, 1960, upon formal attainment of independence by the French speaking Cameroon (Burgess, 2009:82). The genealogy of Cameroon-U.S. relations started as far back as in the 1960’s, when the U.S. established diplomatic relations with Cameroon in 1960, following the independence of the French-administered part of the country, Cameroon has had two presidents since independence and 45th for the U.S. and with Cameroon are positive, although from time to time they have been affected by concerns over human rights abuses and the pace of economic and political liberalization and above all democracy and good governance (Bergess, 2009:83). The two countries are partners countering regional threats to stability, such as the threat of Boko Haram, and addressing issues of good governance, democracy, regional security, environmental protection, public health, and economic and social development. The U.S. hopes continue to work with Cameroon to consolidate democratic gains and economic growth, particularly as Cameroon embarks upon presidential election planned for 2018. The United States supports Cameroon’s efforts to strengthen electoral institutions, enhance transparency, allow for contestation of results (Aseh, 2006:5).
In a nutshell, the past decade, U.S. has been operating a dynamic, constructive, flexible and self-confident foreign policy and spreading her capitalist agenda in exporting western democracy through assisting Cameroon in the conduct of democratic elections, that permits her to stand firm ad tall as the dominant world power in the international scenario and in the African continent as well in Cameroon despite facing challenges from China and Russia.
Diplomatic ties are established between any two states with the primary aim of mutual benefits to both states though this has never always been the case. More than fifty years have gone by and diplomatic relations between Cameroon and the U.S. have grown from leaps and bounds. The emergence of democratic as a prioritized issue of the international Liberalism development agenda falls within the content of worldwide neo liberalization. The attractiveness of the concept lies in its capacity to make complex issues seen manageable, to hide disagreement and to provide practical answers to the disappointing results of the structural adjustment program of the late 1980s (December et al.2004.2). The degree and pace of political liberalization took a low pace as compared to economic liberalization which is given higher preference than the former. In this light sovereignty turns to be debated upon concerning political liberalization than economic liberalization which has to meet the interest of the western capitalists. The political event 1990s that hit Cameroon forced the government to embrace democracy due to from within and out of the country unfolding faster.
Even during non-election period, the government still violates basic tenets like freedom of association and manifestation, the press speech etc. under the watchful eyes of the U.S who is highly revered as the leader of the free world. Since the introduction of multiparty in the early 1990s, several elections have taken place with the majority not being free and fair with serious abuses of human rights taking place. It’s with the light of this that I have decided to examine the role of the united states in promoting this democracy through elections in Cameroon
1.3.1 general objectives
The objectives of this study is to investigate the role the united states has been playing in Cameroon when it comes to elections.
1.3.2 specific objectives
The objectives of the study are as follows:
To assess the parameters for a democratic election
To investigate the role played by the US in conducting free and fair elections in Cameroon
To investigate the challenges faced by the government of Cameroon in conducting democratic elections .
1.4.1 General questions
To what extend has the united promoted democracy through its elections in Cameroon
1.4.1 Specific questions
- To what extend has the U.S followed the roles of democracy when conducting elections in Cameroon.
- How far is the Cameroon government helping to make sure the U.S conducts election peacefully ‘
- What role does the US play in the promotion of free and fair election in Cameroon?
- What challenges does the government of Cameroon face in conducting democratic election?
FURTHER READING: POLITICAL SCIENCE PROJECT TOPICS WITH MATERIALS