Friday, November 29, 2013

CDES CAMEROON Releases Critical Observation Report on Cameroon’s September 30, 2013 Legislative and Municipal Elections

Mr.Atem Oben Henry at the press briefing in Tiko
Mr.Atem Oben Henry, Executive Director of CDES Cameroon, an organization promoting excellence  in the management of elections ,which monitored Cameroon's September 30.2013 twin elections, has  made public a critical election  observation report .The release was  made recently during a press briefing at the organization’s head office in Tiko, Cameroon. 
Following is the report in its entirety:
I. INTRODUCTION. The Advisory Board and Management Team of CDES Cameroon in response to the call by the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization of Cameroon requesting applications for interested National Organizations wishing to observe the 2013 twin elections, decided to establish a Citizen Election Observation Mission (CEOM) to monitor the conduct of the elections. CDES Cameroon is an independent, nonprofit, apolitical and nongovernmental organization established in 2011 after the flaws observed in Cameroon’s 2011 Presidential elections. CDES Cameroon emerged out of the need to mobilize Cameroonian citizens to participate in the electoral process as a confidence-building mechanism. Furthermore, CDES Cameroon’s formation complements the efforts of Cameroon’s Electoral Commission (ELECAM) in ensuring transparent, credible and peaceful elections and referendums in the country. CDES Advisory Board is chaired by Justice Tahle Mukete Itoe, a prominent human rights activist and CEO of the Global Network for Good Governance. He is assisted among other Board members by Justice Mbah Acha Rose, a dedicated advocate on women’s right. The daily work of the organization is assured by a dedicated management team headed by an Executive Director.
2. CDES Cameroon is member to the Global Election Stakeholders Network (ESN), the Global Network for Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM), the World Association of
Nongovernmental Organizations (WANGO), and a contributor to the Global Elections
Organization (GEO) among others.
3. The CDES Cameroon CEOM, made of 60 well trained national observers was led by Mr. Atem Oben Henry, Executive Director, International Elections Observer and Consultant. Atem has observed elections in Ivory Coast and Liberia (2011), Senegal and Ghana (2012) with the Carter Center (USA), the African Union and the National Democratic Institute for Foreign Affairs (NDI) in the USA. The team also included heads of Civil Society Organizations involve in human rights advocacy in the 10 Regions of Cameroon with verifiable experience in observing past national elections.
CDES Cameroon’s Work in the Build-up to the September 30, 2013 Elections
4. Prior to the September 30, 2013 elections, CDES Cameroon had been involved in building the  capacity and skills of key electoral stakeholders involve in the elections. CDES Cameroon
trained 34 Leaders of Youths Associations in the South West, North West, West and Littoral Regions on Youth Electoral Engagement and Peace, trained over 30 female Political Parties actors on Techniques of Mainstreaming Gender in the electoral process, 32 media practitioners under the banner of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists on Professional Election Coverage and Reporting and finally trained over 40 Political Party Agents as trainers on the role of party agents/representatives in the various Electoral  Commissions notably the Local Polling and Supervisory Commissions. The trainings were funded solely by CDES Cameroon, without support from neither the international donor community nor the Cameroon government.

A. Objectives
5. The objective of the CDES CEOM was to make an independent, objective and impartial
assessment of the 30 September 2013 Parliamentary and Municipal Elections in Cameroon. In pursuance of this objective, the CDES CEOM observed the election within the spirit of the constitution, the electoral code and other legal framework for the conduct of elections in Cameroon; the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which came into force on 15 February 2012 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
6. The mission was specifically required to: a. Establish whether the elections were conducted in compliance with Cameroon’s
constitutional, electoral code and legal frameworks governing the conduct of elections in Cameroon;
b. Assess whether the elections were conducted in accordance with the OAU/AU
Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, the African
Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the UDHR;
c. Verify if the electoral environment was conducive for voters to freely exercise their
fundamental rights and express their will;
d. Assess the level of voters’ awareness and whether voters’ right to choose freely and in secrecy was guaranteed, upheld and protected;
e. Determine the completeness, accuracy and inclusiveness of the voters’ roll and whether these voters’ or potential voters’ were disenfranchised;
f. Assess the level of fair and adequate access to the media by political parties;
g. Evaluate the transparency and adequacy of the voting, counting and collation processes, as well as the proclamation of results; and
h. Establish whether the results of the elections were a true reflection of the democratic will of our citizens.
B. Methodology and Deployment of Observation
7. The Center for Democracy and Electoral Studies, CDES Cameroon, before the deployment of observers had been monitoring preparatory activities. The MU monitored the political and security situation in the country in the build-up to the elections through its Early Warning Mechanism. Furthermore, the Executive Director interacted with many principal actors in the electoral process, with a view to assess the state of preparedness for the elections.
8. The Mission established its office in Tiko coordinated by a Core Team led by Mr. Atem Oben Henry, including 6 legal, communication and data collection officers. The CT was responsible for coordination, training of observers, logistics, deployment, communication and liaison, data collection and analyzing field reports from observers and to draft and publish CDES Cameroon’s CEOM Report on the conduct of the elections.
9. The observers were briefed and orientated by CDES the Core Team at the Tiko 3813 Business Complex on the 25th of September 2013. The Executive Director of CDES Cameroon who had maintained contacts with state authorities, political party leaders, security officials, the media, the Judiciary and some officials of ELECAM gave the observers an exposé of the situation before deployment. The observers were also trained by the Core Team on the observation and reporting methodology bearing in mind the legal instruments and Principles/Commitments numerated above. They were expected to cover the last days of campaigns, filled observation checklists at intervals as directed by the secretariat and report findings. The head of each observer team was required to report through a “hotline” some special critical incidents to the secretariat. Observation kits were also distributed including observation checklist, laws, code of conduct for observers and communication airtime.
10. The Mission called on all the field observers to strictly implement the dispositions of the Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observers and Monitors and the Code of Conduct to which CDES Cameroon is a signatory. This instrument initiated by the National Democratic Institute (USA) has wide support from all International organizations including the UNDEA, UNDP, EC, IDEA, AU etc. It enjoys the endorsement of over 200 citizen organizations in over 75 countries. It spells out the responsibilities and ethical obligations of nonpartisan citizen election observers and monitors.
11. Following the briefing, teams of CDES observers were deployed to the 10 regions of the country to monitor the last days of campaign and the proceedings on Election Day. The teams were composed as follows: Adamawa 4, Center – 10, East – 4, Far North – 4, Littoral – 12, North – 4, North West – 2, South West – 8, South – 5, West – 5.
12. The origin of Cameroon’s return to multi-party politics began as far back as 1987 with the theory of multiple candidatures with Cameroon’s one party system(Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement –CPDM) an era which experienced severe political duels. 1990 was marked by a series of popular demands for more democracy and freedom. A series of draft laws on freedom of speech and association was tabled in Parliament leading to the enactment of what was called “Law on Freedom”. Cameroon thus officially resumed multiparty politics in December 1990. On March 01, 1992, legislative elections were organized which the new and influential opposition, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) boycotted. The CPDM won the elections, grabbing 88 of 180 seats at the National Assembly and obtain absolute majority by an agreement with MDR (6 seats). The parliamentary opposition was made up of NUDP (68 seats) and UPC (18 seats).
13. On 21 January 1996, municipal elections were organized for the first time since the return to the multi-party politics. This election established the domination of opposition political parties (NUDP and SDF notably) in the main cities of the country. In 1997, the second multiparty parliamentary elections were held. . The CPDM won with an absolute majority, while the SDF, UDC, UNDP, UPC, MDR and MLDC also secured few seats. March 2002, CDES Cameroon Citizen Election Observation Mission Report: Cameroon 2013
Cameroonians again went to the polls for the combined parliamentary and municipal
elections. The CPDM secured a majority in both Parliament and Council. However the SDF was unbeatable in the North West and the CDU in the Noun Division of the West Province.
14. Since 2002, the CPDM has continuously stamped its supremacy over the other political parties in elections which have for many been considered not transparent and credible.
Following the adoption and promulgation of the law relating to the creation of political parties, many parties have emerged, making the call for political and electoral reforms inevitable. Their calls attracting popular support from both the international community and national stakeholders in the process.
15. The creation of Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) in 2006, the National Communication Council, and the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedom were all geared towards improving on the respect of Human Rights and the    Democratic practices. The stream of reforms continued under the pressure of the international community, political parties and the Civil Society for the establishment of a unique Electoral Code of Cameroon. In 2012, a bill was tabled by government to harmonize all laws governing the conduct of five different elections; Presidential, Senate, National Assembly, Regional and Local Councils, resulting to the birth of Cameroon’s single Election Code (“The Elections Book”).
16. The September 30, 2013 Elections in Cameroon thus falls in the middle of ongoing reforms in consolidating Cameroon’s democracy. The bicameral nature of the legislature as enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution was effectively put in place after Cameroon held its first ever Senate (upper house) elections in April 14, 2013. The seats in national assembly (lower house) has in the past decade been predominantly occupied by two leading political parties, CPDM – the ruling party with more than 80% of the seats and SDF with few other political parties occupying one to three seats in the 180 member National Assembly.
17. The Constitutional and legal framework for elections in Cameroon consistent with regional and international standards is contained primarily in the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon and relevant statutory frameworks. Among these instruments are the Electoral Code, the law on the formation of political parties and attendant regulations.
18. After an extensive national debate and various consultations, the government tabled, before the National Assembly, a bill in 1995 to amend the 1972 Constitution in line with earlier consultations. The bill was adopted in December 1995, and promulgated into law in 1996. It was characterized by some major innovations; among them was Decentralization, establishing the creation of Regions and Regional Councils, the institution of a judicial power, the creation of a Constitutional Council and an Audit Bench at the Supreme Court.
19. The Constitution is the most important law that governs elections in Cameroon and is supreme to all other laws in the country. As the basis for citizen participation in the political and electoral process, the constitution makes provisions and safeguards for fundamental human rights and freedom and the protection of such rights by the courts. The Constitution representation of the people and affirms the right to vote as a fundamental right.
20. The Constitution also establishes the elective offices and provides the eligible criteria for contesting the offices. Key institutions that play critical roles in the electoral process such as the Elections Management Body and political parties also have their foundation in the Constitution. Finally, the Constitution of Cameroon also lays the basis for the Local Government and the structure for the decentralized government.
21. The doctrine of separation of power is enshrined in the Constitution through the establishment of three arms of government namely, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.
22. The number of political parties in Cameroon has constantly being on the rise since the adoption and promulgation in 1990 of law establishing such bodies. As at present, the country is host to over 250 political parties, some of which are considered Regional Parties while some have never attempted to contest an election.
23. In 2012, after the flaws observed in the 2011 Presidential election and recommendations from both the international community and national stakeholders, the government tabled a bill in Parliament to establish a single electoral code. The bill though decried by the opposition and the Civil Society for not containing certain reforms such as the single ballot paper as recommended was adopted by the majority MPs of the ruling party and promulgated in to law.
24. The Electoral Code encompasses all the different laws relating to the conduct of election in
Cameroon and among the major innovation were; the reconfiguration and redefinition of the duties of Elections Cameroon and the introduction of Biometric Voter Registration.
25. The electoral system in Cameroon is Plurality/Majority System. First Past the Post (FPTP) for single member constituencies (Presidential and National Assembly single member constituencies). For multi member constituencies (Senate, National Assembly multi member constituencies and local councils), the winner is expected to secure 50% +1 vote failure to which the party with the highest number of votes is allocated half of the seats; the remainder is allocated to the other best-placed lists through proportional representation. Lists obtaining less than 5% of the votes cast are not eligible for proportional distribution. Seats are awarded to candidates in the order in which they appear on each party list.
26. Ceding to multiple requests and demands, the Government of Cameroon, through lawn°2006/011 of 29 December 2006 instituted a new independent organ, Elections Cameroon
(ELECAM) responsible for the organization, management and supervision of the entire
process of elections and referendums. The political scene in Cameroon since the
establishment of ELECAM has mainly been marked by debates on the neutrality and moral integrity of its members. In fact, since the appointment of these members, several reservations have been expressed. Opposition parties, Civil Society organizations and some members of the diplomatic corps expressed their worries. At least 09 of the 12 appointed members were at time of appointment either influential members or militants of the CPDM, whose president is Cameroon’s Head of State.
27. These debates warranted the ELECAM members to proof their integrity leading to the government fashioning a legislative reform in 2011 few months before the Presidential elections. The amendment consisted of increasing the number of ELECAM members to eighteen (18) and to withdraw from ELECAM, the power to publish provisional election results; this reform was a political initiative drawing lessons from the controversy in the Ivorian election from December 2010 to April 2011.
28. ELECAM performs its duties through two (2) organs; the Electoral Board (EB) and the General Directorate of Elections (GDE). The EB consists of eighteen (18) members up from twelve (12) in 2006. It is headed by a Chairperson, a deputy chair and sixteen (16) members all appointed renewably by the President of the Republic for a four (4) year mandate. The GDE is headed by a Director General (DG) for Elections assisted by a deputy Director General (DDG).
29. The EMB is implanted nationwide through its decentralized offices in all 10 Regions, 57 Divisions and 360 council constituencies, consisting of Regional Delegates, Divisional and Council Branch Heads with their support staff. Some of the personnel are on secondment from state services. The DG is vested with the powers to recruit temporary staff during an election year to assist in the accomplishment of his duties. It was pointed out that in 2011 election allegations of bias were noted especially in the strongholds of various political parties given the level of comfort that had been established between ELECAM field personnel and political parties. To avoid a similar situation in the future, it may be prudent for the DG to rotate their field office staff in election years to stem such allegations.
30. In addition, ELECAM initiated the recompilation of the electoral register in 2012 but were eventually cut off in the process with the introduction of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) for the first time.
31. The President of the Republic after a series of complains from stakeholders appointed members of the Civil Society in to the Electoral Board of ELECAM.
32. ELECAM exhibited financial and operational autonomy as well as credibility in the
preparations of the 2013 elections. However, the decision by the Presidency of the Republic to disburse special funds to the Electoral Board to assist in its functioning during an election year attracted questions about the independence by some political actors.
33. The Electoral Board held several consultative discussions with all stakeholders prior to the elections to exchange ideas, give information about ELECAM’s work and also share feedbacks from the field with the stakeholders.
34. The Electoral Code provides for the formation of various electoral commissions at various levels of the electoral process to complement the work of ELECAM. These commissions at different stages of the electoral process are in charge of registering voters, distribution of voters’ card, management of polling operations, conduct the centralization and collation of results and in the case of the Council supervisory commission proclaim the results of council elections.

35. The National Anti-corruption Commission (CONAC) in a bit to stem the incidence of corruption in the electoral process organized a series of sensitization campaigns nationwide to inform stakeholders on the need to uphold the integrity of the electoral process.
36. CONAC in safeguarding the transparency of the process created Special Anti-corruption Units in all Regions to collect, centralize and analyze denunciation of acts of corruption from all over the national territory for rapid intervention.
37. The Mission’s assessment of the pre-electoral context was based on the findings made by the Management Team of CDES Cameroon led by its Executive Director in July and September 2013, and the consultation held with various stakeholders in Cameroon.
Voter Registration and Biometric System
38. ELECAM is charged with the responsibility of registering voters and maintenance of the voters’ register. Article 2(3) of the Constitution explicitly provides for the right to vote to all Cameroonians aged 20 and above. Registration of a voter is therefore a constitutional right.The Constitution deal with citizenship, which is a major requirement for a voter to register in Cameroon. The detailed procedure for registration of voters is further contained in the Electoral Code.
39. As part of the electoral reforms, the government introduced Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) for the 2013 elections. The registration period lasted for close to ten (10) months with two (2) extensions made to permit eligible voters to register. This was followed by voters’ list inspection period for claims and objections. This lasted for few days and ELECAM commenced with the production and distribution of voter cards. The BVR system ensured that essential data of voters was captured in the biometric system, which in turn minimized problems that were noted with the manual registration.
40. The BVR system greatly improved the security of the registration exercise through multiple and complementary identification (photo ID, finger-prints and secure barcodes and serial numbers). It also reduced the incidence of double registration and voting in comparison to the manual registration exercise. The various stakeholders applauded ELECAM in regards to the participatory and inclusive manner with which the BVR was conducted.
41. The process of procuring the BVR machine was initiated and conducted in a manner that conformed to the procurement rules. The process was subjected to bidding in which different companies submitted proposals. Companies were scored on the basis of their performance on the various examinable areas. After a transparent evaluation process, the result was announced by the chair of the Electoral Board. The announcement however, was tainted by some controversy on the selection of the German company. Political parties not only participated in the testing of the various samples provided by the suppliers, but also monitored the entire registration exercise. At the commencement of the process ELECAM ensured its personnel were trained and made conversant with the functioning of the BVR machines. At the conclusion of the exercise, slightly over 5.4 million voters were registered in the September 30, 2013 elections.
42. The advantages of the BVR notwithstanding, a number of challenges were noted on E-Day with regard to the numbers on the two different voter lists used during polling and the absence of the names of duly registered voters in others.
Delimitation of Constituencies
43. In Cameroon where the FPTP electoral system is used in single member constituencies, delimitation of constituencies is one of the most emotive issues given its impact on the outcome of the election. In respect to Section 149 (2) of the electoral code, the Head of State signed two (2) decrees; No 2013/222 and 2013/223 to delimit and repartition some Parliamentary constituencies few weeks to elections. Most of the opposition parties decried the decree to be baseless and not taking in to account the new demographic nature of the country.
Political Parties and Candidate Nomination
44. Following the reintroduction of multi-party politics in the early 90s, Cameroon was declared a multi-party state. The right to form political parties and participate in the political process is anchored in the political party law and Article 3 of the 1996 Constitution. The entrenchment of political parties in the Constitution has ensured an important safeguard to the protection of multi-party democracy in Cameroon.
45. Nomination within political parties in Cameroon is considered fairly democratic. Most parties conduct primaries through a delegate system and the annual delegates’ conference nominates the presidential candidates. For the purpose of these elections, almost all the parties preceded with investiture due to the limited time provided by law to submit candidature files.
46. The Electoral Code in Section 164 provides for 15 days for the submission of candidatures by political parties following the convening of the polls. This provision did not take into account the difficulty in mobilizing funds to pay the caution, the duration in processing all the required documents and the duration that political parties may use to select their candidates for investiture. This created numerous problems and placed political parties under serious pressure to meet the submission deadline, leading to many lists being rejected by the EMB.
The submission of candidature files by political parties would have been easier if there existed a verifiable electoral calendar for all elections, permitting parties to prepare well in advance.
Women’s Participation and Representation
47. Women continue to be marginalized in the political and elective position in Cameroon. Despite significant progress in the application of the legal disposition with regard to women consideration in the composition of party list, the level of women participation in politics still trail that of men.
48. Women constitute 51 percent of the Cameroonian population. Though this does not reflect in their participation in the electoral process, their gradual commitment as voters and candidates in this election is commendable. CDES Cameroon applauds the ELECAM Board for taken firm measures with regard to gender in the composition of the various party lists. Twenty (20) of the forty eight (48) party lists rejected by ELECAM failed to respect the gender requirement as interpreted. The gender twist in the new dispensation with 56 women as members of parliament in the lower house as against 25 in the 8th Legislature is as a reflection of the engagement of ELECAM. This places Cameroon in the 28th position with 30.1%
(56/180) up from the 89th position, 13.9 (25/180) in 2007, 11.1% (20/180) in 2002 and 5.6%
(10/180) in 1997, in the rankings of the World database of Women in Politics. The present percentage exceeds the threshold set out in the Beijing Plan of Action.
49. The representation of women in other areas of political leadership still remains low. Only
14.5% (09/53) of the present cabinet ministers are women. ELECAM, the body charged with conducting elections has an average female workforce of 23.6% from the Electoral Board to field personnel. No Governor or Senior Divisional Officer is a woman while a crying 2 of 360
Divisional officers are females. The road to sustainably attain gender equality to the minimum threshold remains long.
The Role of the Media
50. The relationship between the media and ELECAM in relaying electoral information on the organizational preparedness towards the elections was commendable especially with the introduction of BVR. The media gave Cameroonians the possibility to get information about the organizational progress leading to E-Day to ensure hitch free and peaceful elections.
51. The vibrancy of the media however especially during and after the polls depended greatly on the legal provisions. While the law provides for the proclamation of results in every polling station by the local polling commission (Section 113 of the Electoral Code) to the hearing of all present including observers and the media, same law prohibits the proclamation of the trends. The National Communication Council (NCC) in trying to stamp its mark in the process also warned the media to stay free from publishing any trends lining behind the law, whose interpretation on the subject remains unclear. It is believed that the reason for proclaiming results in the polling stations is intended to prevent any form of fraud during transmission and centralization of results, suspicion and misunderstanding that may lead to confusion, disputes and eventual violence. The unofficial announcement of results by the
media, most importantly in local elections provides voters as of right to timely information about their expressions in the polls which to a bigger extend, prevent misconceptions that the results may be tempered with.

52. The role the press plays in informing Cameroonians on public issues including the political life can significantly increase voter participation especially first time voters (FTV). Debates, interviews and other politically motivated programmes can greatly impact on citizens’ public participation. Decision No 034/MINCOM of the Minister of Communication suspended programmes of political character during campaigns, limited the role of the media, especially the state TV and print media, to just allocating unequal airtime to political parties to sing their usual songs which Cameroonians have been hearing for decades.
53. Nevertheless, the manner in which the media covered the election substantially contributed to the peaceful nature and calm witnessed on Election Day and the immediate post-election period.
Participation of Persons with Disabilities
54. The physically challenged are also not adequately represented in elective positions. There is no law focusing specifically on the physically impaired. More so, political parties are yet to embrace favorable policies and framework to enhance the participation of people with disabilities within their ranks. However, the EMB took some measures to assist and have provided Braille to assist the visually impaired.
Electoral Campaign Process
55. In compliance with the provisions of Section 87 of the electoral code, campaigns began on the 15 September 2013, the fifteenth day preceding the election and close at midnight on the eve of the Election Day. In general, the campaigns did not witness any major incident and passed-off peacefully. However, the allocation of largely unequal press airtime to all contesting political parties during campaigns though provided for by law indicated an unfair balance in the contest with the ruling party securing almost all the airtime and available opportunity to propagate its messages in the state print and TV media at the detriment of the other political parties. With only 50% of campaign funds disbursed before Election Day, the opposition faced difficulties in mobilizing funds to organize campaigns, rallies and others to pass across their messages.
56. The Mission’s assessment of Election Day was based on analyzing reports and feedbacks from observers deployed across the various regions in the country. The team visited 448 polling stations nationwide. A debriefing session was held upon their return. The findings and recommendations of the mission are based on its observations and consultations up to the proclamation of the result of the Parliamentary elections on the 17 October 2013.
Opening of the Polls
57. 30th September 2013 began with long queues of enthusiastic and expectant voters of all categories, some of whom had arrived at the polling centers as early as 7am. By the official opening time of 8am, some polling centers in Yaounde, Douala and Bamenda were filled to capacity.

58. At most of the polling centers observed, electoral officials and materials arrived before the opening time allowing voting to commence within the lawful time. In the 448 polling stations observed by the Mission, the opening was delayed in very few places due to the late arrival of electoral officials and/or materials or security imperatives notably in G.S Muea, G.S Likoko Membea in Buea, Bwinga camp office in Tiko, Bastos Primary School, the Tsinga Bilingual Primary School and the Refuge Bilingual School Carriere in Yaounde and other polling stations in Bamenda, Ebolowa and Bafoussam.
Voter Turnout
59. In most of the polling stations visited, the team noted impressive voter turnout particularly in the morning when polls opened and at the closing of the poll. According to ELECAM report out of 5,481,226 registered voters, 4,208,796 voters participated in the poll, representing 76.79% voter turnout.
60. Cameroon has an estimated population of twenty (20) million with over nine (9) million above voting age. Registering almost five million five hundred thousand (5.5 million) therefore, can not be looked at as an achievement of a good civic education drive.
The Voting Process
61. In many of the polling stations visited, the voting process followed the rules, guaranteeing the transparency and credibility of the process.
62. The arrangement of polling stations guaranteed the secrecy of the ballot. However, the layout of the polling booths in some stations had the effect of compromising the secrecy of the ballot. The situation was made worse at some polling stations in Bamenda, Bafoussam, Buea, Yaounde, Maroua and Garoua where some voters were asked to show proof of voting certain political parties by bringing their rejected ballot in exchange for money. This phenomenon was confirmed when CDES observers found ballot papers littered in some of the streets in Yaounde leading to Ecole de Poste and around Lycée de Biyem-Assi and in some polling
centers in Maroua.
63. The absence of queue control measures and directions to lead voters to designated polling stations created confusion in some stations, particularly during the commencement of voting.
64. The ink used in some polling station was visibly not indelible justified as Prof. Maurice Kamto President of the MRC Party demonstrated his ink free fingers after voting in the presence of CDES observers in Yaounde II.
65. In almost all the polling stations observed, no verification was done on the thumb finger of voters to ascertain they had not voted before. However, the nature of the ink not being indelible in certain cases would not have yielded any results.
66. At some polling stations like Tsinga Bilingual School in Yaounde ballot papers of MRC and
UPC ran short. This was also noted for other political parties in other areas in Bafoussam, Lagdo and Bertoua.

67. CDES observers noted in some polling stations that the voters’ list was not put up outside the polling station. Some potential voters who could not wait for the matter to be resolved got discouraged and were seen going away out of frustration.
68. Few voters in Yaounde, Buea, Ebolowa who were in possession of their voter cards did not find their names on the affixed voter lists of their assigned polling station. However, some of them were permitted to vote after consultation with the authorities of ELECAM.
69. There were discrepancies in voter’s numbers in the register affixed outside and the other used inside the polling stations. This slowed down the voting trend.
70. In almost all the constituencies observed, campaign gadgets and banners were still found pasted near polling stations and flying in towns and villages contrary to Section 92 (1) of the Electoral Code.
71. The participation of youths in the polling centers visited was timid and sparsely many. This was noted mainly in the urban areas. It calls for some youth friendly policies to be incorporated in the electoral process such as the intensification of civic education campaigns.
72. At several polling stations observed, the physically challenged, the aged and
nursing/expectant mothers were supported in exercising their franchise. In others, the special needs voters, particularly nursing mothers were treated just like the other voters.
Local Polling Commission or Polling Personnel
73. The Mission noted that members of the polling commission were in most of the polling stations on time and generally conducted the election well. The members were easily identified in polling stations visited by CDES observers by their badges.
74. In some of the polling station, however, the presiding officer did not quite follow the instructions and dispositions of the law. Some did not master their role, leaving the authority and management of the polls at the mercy of other members, notably the representative of the Administration. This gave some voters the impression that the process was still being masterminded by the Administration.
Security, Observers and Political Party Agents
75. Security at the centers was provided by the Police, Gendarmes, Army supplemented by the prison and other security services. Security was however, considered inadequate in some centers with large number of voters.
76. In most of the polling centers visited, CDES observers noticed the occasional presence of party representatives notably those of UNDP in Tiko in the South West, SDF in Lagdo and Yaounde in the North and Center regions respectively and UDC in the West region. Observers from the African Union, the Diplomatic Corps, La Francophonie, Commonwealth and the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedom were observed in some of the polling centers.
Accessibility of Polling Stations
77. Most of the polling stations were conveniently located with easy access by the voters especially to the physically challenged. For the most part, the polling stations were located in public places. The number of registered voters in each polling station did not exceed 500, manageable as most stations had less than 500 registered voters.
Women’s Participation on Election Day
78. The team noted the impressive participation of women in the process on E-Day as polling officials, security officials and voters. In all the polling stations visited, remarkable attempt was made to satisfy gender balance in the composition of the local polling commission. The team noted that women presided over a few polling commissions notwithstanding their visible absence as party agents and limited number as citizen observers.
Closing of the Polls and the Counting Process
79. Polls closed at the official time of 6:00pm at several polling stations where there were no glitches and delays. However, at a few stations, voters in the queue were allowed to vote in accordance with laid down regulations.
80. The mission noted that in Douala Jardin D’enfants polling station in Deido, security officers harassed and chased away voters who were present to witness the counting process contrary to Section 109 of the Electoral Code.
81. In spite of the late closure in some polling stations, the closing procedures were strictly adhered to.
82. The counting was conducted in a transparent manner and under the watchful eyes of the party agents and observers present, even though there were challenges of inadequate lighting where there was no electricity.
Critical Incidents
83. CDES CEOM operated a critical incident hotline for observers throughout Election Day. The observers sent in report(s) on all serious issues that arose during the day. These reports were then verified by the Core Team in the Secretariat with other stakeholders.
84. The critical incidents checklist requested observers to report on the following:
- Voting suspended;
- Intimidation and harassment of voters;
- Violation of voting procedures;
- Violence;
- Unauthorized persons inside polling station;
- Party agent refused signing the result sheet;
- Vote buying/commercialization;
- Eligible voter not permitted to vote;
- Accredited observer not permitted to observe proceedings;
- Other incidents.
85. A total of 196 critical incident reports were received from all over the country at the opening
of the polls and during voting. The highest number of reported incidents came from the Littoral Region with 35 incidents. The others were as follows: Center - 31, North West – 26,Adamawa – 26, South West – 21, West – 10, North – 9, East – 7, Far North – 7, South – 7.
86. Other miscellaneous incidents which were reported by CDES observers included:
- The absence of security at polling station;
- Harassment of ELECAM personnel because of late start of voting;
- Misunderstanding between party agents and Presiding officers;
- Argument between Presiding officers and voters leading to delay in voting;
- Fighting among voters in the queue and subsequent disruption in the voting process.
87. While these critical incidents reported by CDES observers may have impeded the opportunity and perhaps infringed on the rights of some Cameroonians to vote, they did not fundamentally undermine the overall credibility of the process.
88. In light of the preceding observations and analysis, the CDES Cameroon CEOM to the 2013 Legislative and Municipal Elections in Cameroon wishes to make the following conclusions:
89. The CDES Cameroon Observation Team notes with delight, the introduction of biometric Voter Registration (BVR) in the electoral process as a sign of Governments commitment to modernizing the administration of election in Cameroon. The Team also confirms that the use of BVR was welcomed by all the stakeholders who in their majority were pleased with the implementation of the process by ELECAM. However, the team acknowledged that the implementation of the BVR for the first time witnessed few disturbing outcomes as mentioned
90. The CDES Team has so far found no reasons to suspect that the few setbacks of BVR were a deliberate act by ELECAM. The team urges stakeholders, political parties in particular who are part of the Commissions charged with the Revision of the Electoral registers to demonstrate a high sense of commitment in accompanying ELECAM in rectifying the
situation for future elections.
91. The Team comments our country men and women, political parties, security services, the media, civil society and all other stakeholders for their overall comportment and progressive maturity in strengthening our democratic culture and engages them to preserve these achievements.
92. Against this background, the team is of the view that apart from the logistical challenges such as the ink, undue delays in the opening of a marginal number of polling stations and the challenges in the voter lists, ELECAM provided the necessary environment and facilities to eligible Cameroonians to exercise their franchise in a secure and transparent manner.

93. The team remarks that few cases of severe vote buying was reported in some urban areas like Douala, Yaounde, Maroua and Bamenda. The team appeals to political parties to refrain from such undemocratic acts and give the opportunity for voters to make informed choices with the objective of building stronger democratic institutions that are responsive to the demands of the citizens.
94. The team also noted that the opposition parties participated in less than half of the nation’s parliamentary and municipal constituencies, leaving the ruling party with an advantage of grabbing as many seats a possible. The team urges political parties to consider forming credible blocks or expand their field presence nationwide to democratically compete for state institutions.
95. While appealing to political parties to accept the verdict emerged from the polls and the results proclaimed by the Supreme Court. The team enjoins all aggrieved parties to also accept the pronouncement of the Administrative Bench of the Supreme Court, after the hearings on petitions for Municipal elections. The team will continue to monitor the concluding phase of the electoral process.
96. In the light of the challenges observed and consultations, the CDES Cameroon CEOM offers the following recommendations:A. The Electoral Commission (ELECAM)
97. Despite the challenges, the team recognizes the advantage of Biometric Voter Registration and urges ELECAM to continue perfecting the process in order to reduce errors to a minimal degree. In this regard, they should ensure the maintenance of the equipments, upgrade the software and consider the continuous training of registration personnel as a top priority.
98. ELECAM, in cooperation with the National Agency for Civic Education, the National
Commission for Human Rights and Freedom, Civil Society Organizations and the Media
should highly consider the intensification of civic/voter education/information to first-time and would be first-time voters including other electorates without waiting for the next electoral year.
99. The team encourages the EMB to review its strategy of distributing voter cards by
establishing small and permanent distribution units all over the communities with the help of volunteers to assist the competent commissions. This also includes the use of local communication channels to sensitize citizens about the collection units.
100. The EMB should seriously consider the use of Biometric Verification Machines
(BVM) in every polling station to ensure the security of the voting process. This will limit the undue swelling of votes cast in a polling station that are fraudulently added to the votes secured by certain political parties. This additional verification system will further address any form of double voting. However, the team notes that the introduction of BVM will require considerable testing, training of poll personnel and a back up mechanism to limit the consequences of an eventual failure of any of the machines. Failure that could prolong voting as the case of Ghana in 2012.
101. ELECAM should ensure the harmonization of its trainings to presiding officers and
also consider organizing training of trainers workings for political party officials. The aim of these trainings will be to ensure party agents know their functions and what is required of them in the polling station, thus ensuring the proper functioning of the polling stations.
102. The EMB should be more proactive in the provision of information on its work to
political parties, the Civil Society, observers groups and the Cameroonian public in a timely fashion to avoid uncertainties, misrepresentation and anxiety.
103. The team also encourages ELECAM to ensure that adequate numbers of tactile ballots are made available in polling stations for the visually impaired in future elections.
104. ELECAM should seriously improve the quality of E-Day logistics notable the
indelible ink.
B. The State / Government
105. The CDES Cameroon CEOM enjoins the government, the in-coming MPs and the
Senate to review the legal framework governing elections with the view to minimizing the incidents of litigation designed to unduly delay the preparation and conduct of the polls including the publication of results.
106. The State should consider the setting of a National Inter-Party Advisory Committee or a National Council for Political Dialogue endowed with the mandate of an autonomous statutory state body as a platform for regular and predictable consultations among the stakeholders in the electoral process, during and in-between elections. The institutional framework of this body and the appointment of its officials stand as a crucial element in ascertaining its integrity and trust.
107. The CDES CEOM urges the government and the legislature with the support of
ELECAM to introduce the single ballot paper in the voting process. This will not only cut down cost of printing and reduce wastage, it will to a greater extend solve the problem of shortages of ballot papers in polling station. The use of a single ballot paper will facilitate the voting process and stem the possibility of commercializing votes.
108. The Electoral Code provides for the chairperson and members of the local polling
commission to vote in the polling station where they have been assigned to work (Section102(2)).The CDES Team encourages the government and the legislature to also consider introducing early voting for security officials to ensure they are not disfranchised on E-Day.
While the members of the polling commission come from the council constituency, security officials are in most cases catapulted from one end of the country to the other to ensure voters express their franchise in a peaceful atmosphere.
109. The team urges the government to introduce and expedite action on the adoption of a media regulatory framework capable of checking the excesses observed in the course of the electoral process. This should include among others the role of the media in the pre-electoral, electoral and post electoral phases ensuring media freedom and access to information as enshrined in the constitution and international commitments for democratic elections.
110. The government should review the law on the financing of political parties and access to media airtime for political parties to provide a level playing field for all contesting elective positions.
111. CDES Cameroon further enjoins the government to review the voting age in the
constitution and electoral code to 18 years. Most Cameroonians at 18 are able to obtain national ID cards and can make informed choices in exercising their democratic rights.
C. Political Parties
112. Political parties should undertake affirmative action to enhance the participation of women and youth in leadership positions.
113. CDES CEOM enjoins political parties to promote a true political culture within their ranks without giving the impression that they lack the necessary knowledge and
understanding of the electoral code and of other laws.
114. They should consider the training of their party agents as a top priority to enable them effectively understand and play their role in the process.
115. The Team encourages political parties to spread their presence nationwide to avoid leaving the impression that most of them are just regional parties with sparse representation allowing the ruling party the space without competition in many constituencies.
D. Civil Society and Women’s Organizations
116. The Civil Society must strive to form a network or coalition of domestic election
observers of Cameroon (NEDEO or CODEO Cameroon) to increase the visibility of their
actions in the electoral process. CDES Cameroon is committed to contributing expertise assistance in achieving this goal and enjoins other prominent nongovernmental organizations like Transparency International to support any move toward attaining this objective. Cameroon needs a credible and competent non-partisan body in response to the incessant demand of the Civil Society for accountable and responsive governance, respect for the rule of law and human rights, democratic participation and inclusion, and above all, transparent and credible elections.
117. The team also recommends the training of national election monitors on the
monitoring and reporting methodologies, deployment and communication mechanisms and to respect international and national codes of conducts for election observers.
118. CSOs are urged to lay more emphasis on civic/voter education/information to
promote public participation and a sustainable electoral culture in both rural and urban areas.
119. The team enjoins the Civil Society to support ELECAM in striving for gender
mainstreaming entrenching the culture of women participation and encourage the support of
women running for elective positions. Though the legislative results confirms the attainment of a threshold (30%) recommended in the Beijing Platform for Action, there are no sustained guarantees that such representation will be reflected in the bureau of the national assembly and in council executives.
120. The CDES Team encourages women advocacy organizations to continuously
advocate for a review of the electoral code to give reasonable quotas (affirmative action) for women in the electoral process.
E. The International Community/Diplomatic Corps and Donor Agencies
121. The CDES Cameroon CEOM notes that the international and donor community play a significant role in the advancement and modernization of the electoral process in Cameroon and appeals to them to consider intensifying support to Civil Society initiatives on civic/voter education.
122. With respect to election observation, the team is convinced that the remarkable
achievements recorded by Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) in Ghana can be replicated in Cameroon and urges the international community to support initiatives aimed at reaching this goal. The successful establishment of such coalition of CSOs will ensure visibility and promote professionalism in the methodology of observation, analysis and reporting of findings in a harmonious manner.
123. The team also enjoins the donor community to support the training of all stakeholders in the electoral process, notably ELECAM, political parties, women, the media and Civil Society Organizations involved in the electoral process.
124. The CDES CEOM encourages the international community to join the efforts of
political stakeholders to request for reform in the electoral code as mentioned above.
125. The Team appeals to the donor community to assist CDES Cameroon with funding to realize its objective of instilling professionalism among stakeholders in the management of electoral processes through professional capacity building / training programmes.
For further information, contact:
P.O. Box 355 Tiko - Cameroon, Tel: +235 3335 1079 / 3302 7335 Fax: +237 3335 1079
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