Monday, October 10, 2011

Cameroon Presidential Poll:Voting Was Peacful But Irregularities Observed

  "I had two voter cards but  voted once."

-Chief  David Ikome Molinge , Traditional Ruler of Upper Muea-Buea Subdivision
Chief David Molinge,Upper Muea
Upper Muea is a cosmopolitan locality in Buea Subdivision, Cameroon. The inhabitants are usually very sensitive to injustices and in some instances react to such violently. But its ruler, Chief David  Ikome Molinge is a peace crusader and development agent. The Recorder caught up with him on yesterday, October 9, the day Cameroonians went to the polls to elect a new president, to get his opinion about the election. He said the poll was peaceful but for  some irregularities.Read on:

Your Highness, it is 2:00 PM  and in  a few hours voting would come to an end. I have been made to understand that you have gone round the polling station in your chiefdom, observing how voting is going on? What have you observed this far?

I started going round as early as 7:30 am to ensure that election material and polling officers were there. By 8:30 voting had started here. Voting has been going on in a peaceful atmosphere, in calm. I had advised my subjects that after voting, they should avoid crowding at the polling stations. I have found that my people have obeyed my instructions

Where did you cast your vote? Did you notice cases of multiple-voting?

I voted at the Customary Court polling station.  Yes,I discovered that  there are voters with more than one  voter cards. I had two voter cards but voter I voted once. I saw many people with two or three cards but as their ruler warned them to vote just once. I am happy my people respected my advice. I went round all the ten polling stations here and everything was in order. There was no cause for alarm, no violence of threats of violence
What concretely was your contribution on before the election to ensure that there is total peace on Election Day and after the proclamation of results?

As the Chief of the locality, I was informed that, before the Election Day some people came out here intoxicating the population that shortly before and during the election, there would be violence and chaos. This brought about fear among my people.
So, I convened a meeting of family heads, traditional councilors, legalized political parties, security officials and the media, and told them that, no matter who wins the election, they should know that all the candidates are Cameroonians. And that they should know that even before the results are made public, God has already chosen the leader; that the next president is already known by God and that what we are doing-called election is a just  confirmation by Cameroonians  of God’s fulfillment.  I told them that whoever God has chosen Cameroonians should be happy and rally behing him or her so that together we can build and make Cameroon a prosperous nation- for everybody to enjoy
We prayed and have been praying that whoever will be president should build a solid fence around him by bringing on board the other 22 parties to form a coalition government for the interest of peace and greater unity.

Before voting you were handed 23 ballot papers. Were ballots confusing as some voters have claimed? Were the ballots distinctions clear enough?

Honestly, the ballot distinctions were not clear. That is one area where people faced problem. I don’t know where to lay the blame-whether it was the fault of ELCAM or the candidates?
 As I held the ballot papers I realized that nine (9) candidates had one color-white; then three or four candidates had one colour, but there was one outstanding color for a candidate. If there were 23 candidates, ELECAM ought to have known that we can not have 23 colors-for each candidate to have one color. I think they should have advised that five or four colors would be chosen and then the candidates should group under these coulors; this way, I think it would be very easy to choose the candidate you want. But giving 8 or 9 candidates one color and allowing them to dress similarly was confusing. I think semi-literate people villagers had the difficulty of making their choice…I think ELECAM should have consulted the Ministry of Territorial Administration, which has quite a lot of experience in election management
 A new comer cannot work efficiently like the person who has been working for long. Compare ONEL, which managed previous elections, with ELECAM and you see that the difference is clear.

In a nutshell, what is your assessment of ELECAM?

They are not above average .They are just within. This election is their first test or trial, and as first trial it cannot be very efficient. They have met a lot of hurdles along the way.
Their electoral registers have the names of dead people who died years back. That is a big error. If these registers were sent back to the various chiefdoms, with the various parties in those chiefdoms, they would have gone through the registers and removed the names of the dead people. They would have scrutinize and come out with the names of the living, and that would give you a true picture of the electorate. It regrettable that so many people have died but their names still featured on the electoral list. That is why I say ELECAM has scored an average mark. It would appear whatever machines were put in place to detect multiple registrations failed.

With many names of dead people and duplication of voter cards, it increased the cost of printing.
If for example, if they came to Muea and found out that we have four parties, they should have sent ballot papers for four parties. That would cut down cost. But here the entire 23 ballot are there, whereas in Muea I know that only three parties are represented here-CPDM, SDF and APF.
These are the three parties I have seen their representatives at the polling stations. Putting the other 20 ballots is waste-that is money put in by the state that has been wasted…

That money would have been used to increase the workers and safeguard elections in the country and even increase their stipends to encourage them to work.

In some areas, ballot boxes came late. We know that they had problems of transportation.
Here in the palace, I had to give out one of my vehicles to the security to facilitate their work-because as a traditional ruler, that was the role I thought I should play. When you want peace, security must be guaranteed.
I hope after the proclamation of the election results there will be peace.

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