Lessons from the 2018 presidential polls (2)

EDITORIAL 30 Oct 2018
Lessons from the 2018 presidential polls (2)

Common sense instructs us that for the history of a people to continue to repeat itself over and over, represents a bad omen for a people who aspire to move forward in the midst of a competitive world. In our editorial in the last week edition featuring a series projecting the lessons we have learnt from the just concluded presidential elections, we did indeed regret that, be it its predecessor, the Supreme Court, which has now been replaced by the newly constituted Constitutional Council, history has kept repeating itself rather frivolously in our election process.
As a diagnosis, we did pin this phenomenon on the unholy alliance between ELECAM, the body charged with organising elections, in conjunction with its sub-organs, the CPDM, as the ruling political party, acting also in conjunction with the state.
Having said this, we consider it pertinent to move on to the next lesson which we have learnt from the October 7, presidential elections. There is no doubt that the whole electoral process is experiencing an uncomfortable, if not, a regrettable growing voter-apathy which is fast destroying the very essence of our democratic experiment. In consequence, it simply raises an open question why we should find ourselves in such an unpardonable mess, in a fast growing world, which by the day, is proving to be more and more sophisticated through an accompanying growth of modern technology.
Why should we lag behind in keeping pace with even our closest neighbours? Our electoral code is a major obstacle in guaranteeing free and fair elections and a facilitator of the unfortunate voter-apathy. On the basis of this analysis one can very easily determine the rate of the decline in both the voter registration, as well as voter turn-out at elections, by comparing figures of the 2011 presidential elections, with the 2018 elections.
In 2011, ELECAM declared having registered more than seven million voters for that year’s presidential election, with a voter turn-out of nearly five million. For a country with a population of more than twenty million, we can only congratulate ELECAM for their effort in the face of unexplained challenges. But that this year, ELECAM registered a drop in the voter registration, certainly should not deserve any sympathy.
Comparative figures of the 2011 and 2018 elections also show that more than three million out of the more than seven million who registered voted for Paul Biya, while in the 2018 elections, he scored just a little over two million votes, registering a voter-drop of almost one million votes. All we know is that both ELECAM and the ruling CPDM will always be reluctant to admit that, experiences in subsequent elections since the 1992 presidential elections, have taught the electorate one common lesson, that there is something wrong with the whole process and that both the erstwhile National Elections Observatories, NEO (One and Two) have done little or nothing to bring down this phenomenon.
There is also no doubt that the situation in the two Anglophone regions affected the voter turn out. But this phenomenon has not been limited to these two regions only. There were similar low voter turnout in other regions that are relatively at peace. The truth is that the seemingly voter-apathy is a reality, founded on the premises of a voter population that has lost confidence in the electoral process as well as that of those charged with the responsibility of executing the process itself. This is more so if one looks at the composition of the only body that could be trusted as arbiter and the last resort for obtaining justice and fair play, instead of aligning with forces of proven interest, the conclusion remains that we may never witness the much needed honesty among the actors in providing this missing link. The outcome will however be that history shall continue to repeat itself and our so-called advanced democracy will become a subject of ridicule to both our enemies and friends alike. Shall we therefore allow ourselves to see our pride being drawn down to the mud?
By all considerations, the 2018 presidential elections and the declaration of the results will certainly go down in history as a veritable travesty of justice. The international community may be reacting in the way it is reacting simply in conformity with the language and ethics of diplomacy. Yet they know the truth. So where are we heading to?

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