Lessons from the 2018 presidential polls (1)

EDITORIAL 24 Oct 2018
Lessons from the 2018 presidential polls (1)

Shadows of an unholy coalition
As at the time of our going to press, the constitutional council, the body accredited with the powers to proclaim the results of elections in Cameroon had just completed its task of examining petitions from the eight candidates who are contesting the highest office of the country, including the incumbent out-going occupant, and has in fact proclaimed the incumbent, Biya Paul, large winner of the polls. There is no doubt that the whole exercise was stormy and cumbersome, and at the same time worth the pains.
In fairness to judges, for their patience in withstanding the long hours of arguments on grounds of the law, we strongly believe they certainly deserve commendation. And we in this Newspaper offer it whole-heartedly. However, whichever way their judgment, their mastery of the law and consciences in discerning the truth led them, it would be assumed that they did the best they could in the supreme interest of Cameroonians as well as the state who they have sworn to serve. And in the context before us, we are talking about the overall image of our electoral process.
We think all is not well and it would pay the nation more dividends if we can only sacrifice some of our ego and pride, to admit that this is so. With this spirit we can easily see where we have gone wrong. The truth is that we in this Newspaper are seeing at the end of the tunnel, dangling shadows of an unholy coalition of the ruling CPDM as a political party, Elections Cameroon , ELECAM, as an election managing body and the state, as the locomotive that pulls the wagons. It is easy to identify a common language in their presentation and actions which usually leads ELECAM not to see anything wrong in whatever the CPDM does.
On careful examination, one easily identifies certain privileges accorded the ruling CPDM party, which are denied other political parties, while state administrators are there to play their roles as the ones in executing these double standards. This unholy coalition is also evident in the very composition of ELECAM itself, with a majority of the members being adherents of the ruling CPDM as a political party. That apart, there is the other snag by which members of ELECAM have to be appointed by the executive, knowing too well the limitless powers vested in the executive, the extent of which is bound to extract authority from that body. The opposition SDF in its submissions hammered this point extensively. The complicity between the CPDM, ELECAM and the state on the field is all too evident.
This is unfortunate because we think the CPDM, with its implantation, resources both human and financial doesn’t need implicit favours from the administration and ELECAM to win elections.
We think the blame for all this can only be laid on the very character of our constitution for its many loopholes that make provisions for unnecessary interventions, such as the so-called TEXTS of applications, which are only intended to facilitate distortions, distractions and even make room for added meanings to the real spirit and letters of the constitution. Otherwise, the modalities for the organisation of an election could have been well codified and embodied in the constitution which is of course, the fundamental law of the land. There would certainly be no need for a separate electoral code that is tailored to favour the party in power during election process or leave any loopholes for fraud or relevant election malpractices.
We are also quick to point out a silent evil that is creeping into our election process. Tribalism is quietly being injected into our politics. For instance in the 1992 presidential elections, the whole scenario was interpreted as an Anglo-Bami alliance against the Betis. After the October 7, presidential elections, the argument have been narrowed down to the Bamis versus the Betis, an unfortunate distortion of the reality. It is well established what damage tribalism can inflict on the body politics of a country. All we know is that tribalism is not in any circumstance, a welcome visitor in an organised political society.
The bottom line in all that we have been saying is therefore that, we preach election transparency no matter who is declared winner, so long as he wins under the lens of transparency and justice, be the winner an Anglophone, a Bami, a Beti or a Grand Northerner. And this is where we thought the members of the Constitutional Council would allow their consciences over-ride any other considerations. Helas! Either with the Supreme Court acting as the Constitutional Council or the newly constituted Constitutional Council history keeps repeating itself.

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