Paul Biya, the 84 year old incumbent running for his 7th term in office

Cameroonian Presidential Election 2019 – Introduction

On 7th October, Cameroon is due to hold a presidential election, despite attempts by the executive to postpone the process to 2019. The agency entrusted with this task of its coordination is Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) established in 2006. Since independence, Cameroon has been led by two presidents, Ahmadou Ahidjo, for 21 years, and Paul Biya, for 29 years to date. Ahidjo, was designated by the French to lead Cameroon at independence, held five terms as president of a single-party state with no opposition. In November 1982, due to failing health, Ahidjo transferred power to his constitutional successor, Paul Biya. Since 1982, five Presidential elections have taken place in Cameroon two under the single-party system and three of which took place under a multi-party system. The last two presidential elections in that took place in 1997, 2004 and 2011 recorded very low voter turn outs. It is evident that citizens remain apathic towards the national poll given the dominance of Paul Biya.

The President of Cameroon is elected by a plurality voting method of first-past-the-post voting in which the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner with no requirement to achieve a majority. Elections are by universal suffrage and by equal and secret ballot. Eligible voters must be 20 years of age and be registered on an electoral list before they can be eligible to participate in the poll. The General Directorate of Elections is responsible for the preparation and material organisation of election and referendum operations. The body falls under the supervision of the Electoral Board.

Electoral Process

Intimidation of political opponents mainly through kidnappings and arbitrary arrests by the state has been known to occur frequently in past national and local elections. Nationally citizens are not able to participate in open dialogue or to express their views the result of repression of civil rights, including freedom of speech, assembly and the press. This suppression in addition to the historically limited choice of candidates has resulted in very low voter participation.

Although the freedoms of expression and assembly are enshrined in the constitution, these guarantees are frequently abridged by the state’s restrictions on political content and actions. The state owns all advertisement billboards and charges exorbitantly for their use. In Cameroon, billboards are a crucial campaign apparatus because they are highly effective in their reach, providing impressionable alternatives in environments where television set ownership and electricity distribution is limited. Furthermore, the government imposes restrictions in urban areas with regard to where campaign posters can be posted.

Through strategic alterations in the structure and process, the Government of Cameroon has morphed the ELECAM into an instrument of political control over the democratic process. In addition to poor voter turnout and patronage politics, the integrity of institutions, determined by laws and administrative arrangements that underpin the electoral process, are inherently flawed.

The complete report is available for download at the following link:  Presidential Elections in Cameroon

This report is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this report. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information within the report but Salama Fikira can take no responsibility for inaccuracies of fact or deduction. All images are subject to copyright.