In the Southwest, only 19.01% of the 380,848 registered by Elecam voted on February 09, 2020. A situation that benefited the CPDM which won the 31 Council in the region.

A new political map has emerged in the South West Region following the twin legislative and municipal elections of February 9 in Cameroon. The region with 31 local councils which were hitherto managed by the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), 27 councils and the Social Democratic Front (SDF), have all become an exclusive of the CPDM. The opposition SDF was flushed out in Tiko, Kumba I, Kumba II and Kumba III councils which it controlled from 2013. The National Union for Democracy and Progess (NUDP) contested in Tiko and Idenau while the Cameroon Democratic Party ran for the Mamfe Central and Akwaya Councils but both parties just like the SDF lost woefully to the CPDM.

The Cameroon’s Peoples Democratic Movement grabbed all the 31 councils in an election that was highly boycotted in the North West and South West Regions were a bloody socio-political conflict between the ‘Ambazonia’ separatist fighters and government forces have been flexing muscles since 2016. The Social Democratic Front contested in nine council areas but seemingly came out as the highest loser even though party officials have condemned the polls, describing it as incredible.

According to one of the polling agents, who represented the administration in a polling centre in Kumbe, Jermimah Mesode Alobwede, turnout at polling centres was very low. “There was no movement but a few courageous people voted,” she said. Figures published by the Constitutional Council while proclaiming results of the legislative elections following the twin February elections, confirms the very low voter turnout not only in Kumba but in Meme Division as a whole. The Council which has competence on electoral litigations stated that voter participation in Meme Division was 4.45 per cent out of 45,187 who registered, only 2011 voters voted in the three sub-divisions within the Kumba urban constituency.

The South West Region had a total of 380, 848 registered voters for the municipal elections according to statistics gathered at the Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) South West Regional Delegation. Only 19.01 per cent voter participation was recorded from the general regional statistics. The ELECAM Regional Delegate, Divine Mewano argued that voting actually took place in all the 31 council areas of the region though participation was timid. Elections Cameroon however regional branch just like the headquarters in Yaounde refused to disclose figures on the number of registered voters and those who actually voted in each of the council areas.

Ambazonia fighters

It should be noted that the just ended elections took place in a difficult socio-political context. Political parties like Maurice Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) refused to participate urging the Yaounde regime to solve the ongoing Anglophone imbroglio before any local elections are held. Given the high wave of insecurity caused by the bloody war between government forces and Ambazonia fighters, Elections Cameroon in charge of organising and managing electoral operations and referendums in the country created what it called polling centres in the South West and North West Regions. This disenfranchised many potential voters who could not trek long distances for security reasons to cast their votes. Popular localities like Ekona and Muyenge in Muyuka subdivision, harbouring thousands of registered voters were thus side-lined.

The SDF Electoral District Chairman for Limbe I, Godden NdengeZama had on the polling day reported a case of one of CPDM stalwart whose name was on the Limbe I Council list, a certain Arrey Grace Manyi was reported to have severally stuffed ballot boxes with CPDM ballot papers in a polling station in Limbe. On this ground, the opposition party officials petitioned the Fako Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) Emmanuel Ledoux Engamba for what they described as a ‘rigging scheme’ by the ruling CPDM party. “People came here, collect multiple CPDM ballot papers, stuff them in envelops to go and fill ballot boxes,” Zama was quoted to have told the SDO who intervened.
A journalist cum civil society activist, AminatehNkemngu had in a missive titled “Alert and serious call to order for CPDM politicians in Limbe” had reported on his Facebook page on the vote buying and alleged electoral fraud and threats on the life of journalists by the CPDM politicians in Limbe following the unmasking of the scheme.

Some political pundits argue that the ongoing crisis in the English-speaking regions facilitated CPDM’s victory in the regions. This is because the rate of abstention was high as Ambazonia secessionists had called for a boycott and a two-week lockdown of the entire former West Cameroon territory. The scare of the unknown and the gunshots fired in some parts of the region on the morning of February 9, quarantined many people in their homes. But CPDM stalwarts in the region says their sweeping victory is well deserved. Kupe Muanenguba ‘charger de mission’ for the Central Committee Divisional Permanent Delegation, Michael Mbine told this reporter that “the South West has always been a CPDM bastion and ‘the just ended twin elections just confirmed it”.

Roland MBONTEH

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