Municipal & Legislative Elections: Parties TipToe into NW/SW for Campaigns

As the February 9 twin elections approach in Cameroon, despite the ban imposed by Ambazonia activists, few political parties have been tiptoeing into the NW/SW regions for campaigns.

On Sunday February 9th 2020, Cameroonians shall be going to the polls to elect new councilors and parliamentarians. Chapter 6, Section 87(1) of Cameroon’s electoral code stipulates that <<The election campaign shall open on the 15th (fifteenth) day preceding the election and close at midnight on the eve of the election day.>> As such on  Saturday 25th January 2020, most politicians descended to their various council areas and constituencies to begin canvassing for votes.

In the SW region, two parties have been carrying out campaigns; the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) and the Social Democratic Front (SDF). In Bamenda, North West region, mostly the CPDM and the United Democratic Party (UDP) have been able to campaign. Today, because of heightened insecurity, most politicians and militants now play their game in hiding. Party uniforms and gadgets are only put on at the campaign ground after which they are immediately removed and hidden.

At a campaign rally, the UDP’s national chairman El Hadj Lawan Bako disclosed that if his list is voted into parliament they’ll force the  government of Cameroon to give a special quota to the anglophone community because the former regime gave them 20% and the UDP wants it increased to 30 or 40% so that Anglophones will never cry of marginalization because they will be protected by the constitution and the law in recruitments, appointments and development projects.

Philemon Yang, CPDM campaign manager for the North West has been preaching decentralisation and special statues. He explained that through effective decentralisation, the councils will be more powerful, they will have more responsibilities as they’ll recruit and manage certain types of personnel and will have more money from the national budget, reason why CPDM candidates should be overwhelmingly voted for.

On the 28th of January 2020, Dr. Asheri Kilo, Secretary of State for Basic Education went down to her native Kumbo to campaign. The next day, images of her family compound emerged on social media, burnt. Capo Daniel, one of the Ambazonia activitists abroad celebrated the act in one WhatsApp group in which he posted that <<The Ambazonian Pro-independence Forces did not wait for the dust to settle before burning down the  house of Enabler Asheri kilo who led cpdm campaign yesterday in The Great State of Bui …we have well notify the general public that a decision have been reached on ground zero that any Ambazonian citizens that facilitate or participate in this alien elections will have their properties confiscated>>

On Saturday 1st February, the Minister of Supreme State Audit, Mbah Acha Rose led a delegation from Bamenda to the Momo divisional headquarters, Mbengwi for campaigns. Along the way, the convoy came under attack by a supposed non state armed group. Five persons sustained injuries and a car was partially damaged. While addressing militants in the Mbengwi council hall, the minister lamented <<Why are they shooting at us? Is it by force to must do things their own way?”>>

Surprisingly, the SDF that has the NW region as its stronghold is yet to step foot on the ground for campaigns. Most of her candidates like Hon. Mbah Ndam, Hon. Njong Donatus, Hon. Fusi Naamukong have had their houses burnt. In the NW/SW regions, proponents of Ambazonia independence have banned anything that has to do with elections in the two concerned English-speaking regions. To enforce this, they’ve announced a lockdown of the NW/SW regions from the 7th – 12th of February 2020. The government too has insisted that the elections must hold.

At least forty aspirants have “resigned” from the race to avoid being kidnapped or their houses burnt. One of such is Morris Tagyen, SDF Alternate MP for Momo East constituency, Mbengwi. As to why he threw in the towel, he said  <<“Looking at the Anglophone crisis which has made the atmosphere really debilitating to talk in terms of politics, those of us who are bearing the brunt could not waste time than to throw in the towel because the Head of State mindful of his constitutional prerogatives would’ve seen that to have declared war himself and then convene elections will be counterproductive”>>

Chi Ephraim, an ELECAM worker in Santa sub division was allegedly kidnapped by the anti-election restoration forces somewhere around Alatening on Monday 26th January 2020. Days later, a video of him emerged on social media in which he was stag naked and forced to bathe with sand. In the video, he is seen pleading to his captors to spare his life, that he will never try again, that he will resign from the work. He was caught by supposed fighters with a bundle of voters cards in his possession.

ELECAM has so far not reacted to any of the resignations of candidates. Instead, names of those who had resigned have still been printed on council lists and ballot papers probably because few or non-followed the right procedure to resign going by the terms of the electoral code. Most voters plan to stay indoors for fear of the unknown while others have been relocating to Douala, Yaounde, Bafoussam until the election period is over.

By Fongoh Primus Ayeh