By Norbert Wasso Binde with additional reports from Sah Terence A in Bamenda and ATIA TILARIOUS AZOHNWI in Buea
As the deadline for the submission of lists by political parties to Elections Cameroon, ELECAM, and the Constitutional Council narrows, there is heightened anxiety among aspirants.
While opposition parties are fighting against apathy among their members who see the election results as a fait accompli with the CPDM sure to grab the most votes in all the ten regions, most of their members are financially handicapped. The deposit of FCFA One million to be paid by a candidate and alternate is not within the means of many opposition candidates.
To overcome this hurdle in the SDF, the national chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi, has asked mayors to step in and pay the deposit for those who cannot make it.
The CPDM on the other hand has no shortage of candidates and resources. The hierarchy of the party is grappling with a plethora of lists in virtually all the regions leading many to fear an impending implosion.
As expected, the wheeling and dealing and trade-offs are already in full gear and much of the noise is being generated within CPDM circles. In the South West for example, The SUN learnt that at the level of Buea, Senator Matute’s name was expunged from the list of incumbents and replaced with Engineer Fonderson of Tiko, a new comer into the political ring. However, this may not be the end yet of the one with many political lives especially as the central committee will take the final decision.
Thus apart from Senator Matute, there is every likelihood that the rest of the incumbents will sail through despite the frantic fight put up by the mayor of Buea and his sponsored list to knock-off Senator Mbella Moki.
The SDF list in the South West is complete and shall be confirmed on Monday, February 19 during a press briefing by the regional chairman, Mayor Martin Ndobegang. Venerated Professor of Law, Ndiva Kofele Kale shall head the list that comprises Lillian Nnoko from Kupe Muanengouba, Deputy Mayor Lenya of Kumba II representing Meme, Valentine Nganda from Ndian, Barrister Ebai Agbor from Manyu and Nkemlemo Denis from Lebialem.
Uncertainty hangs over NW
Talking with some CPDM big wigs who converged at Ayaba Hotel in Bamenda last Friday February 16 to submit their respective lists to the CPDM permanent Central Committee head to the North West Region, His Excellency Philemon Yang, they expressed uncertainty but also hoped that the CPDM Central committee will select the best candidates to represent the party at the elections.
It is worth noting that the CPDM central committee has to sit and deliberate on the various names proposed at various levels and endorse those they think can best represent the interest of the party.
It is for this reason that many of the CPDM senatorial aspirants in the North West region have been reluctant to make any public statements since they are not yet sure who the Central Committee will select.
Some militants of the CPDM who spoke to The SUN opted for anonymity and said though they are very loyal to the party, they honestly think that the decisions of the Central Committee may not always be a true representation of what the people at the grassroots actually want.
A CPDM militant told The SUN that the Central Committee seems to favour some candidates based on aspects best known to the committee and the choices are sometimes at variance with what the people want.
While CPDM aspirants are still waiting on Yaounde to decide their fate, SDF aspirants are looking forward to the Electoral College that is yet to be convened by Elections Cameroon ELECAM.
Talking to Vanigansen Mochiggle, one of the senatorial aspirants for Mezam Division under the SDF mandate, he expressed dissatisfaction on how the system is run. He pointed out that the SDF party has always stood for complete democracy and that it is unfortunate that they have been drawn into such a system. He remained hopeful that SDF will continue to fight the government until they are someday able to democratically bring it down.
He also revealed that anyone in the SDF is fit to stand as senatorial candidate. His regret however, is the fact that senators will be elected by councilors whose mandate in office is to end in about five months.
“It is clear that most of these councillors will be flushed out of office during municipal elections”, Mochiggle said, while questioning why councillors who may have performed very poorly in office and may soon be kicked out can be given the destiny of the people by allowing them choose peoples’ representatives.
He said under transparent and very democratic circumstances, municipal elections should come up first and not senatorial.
It is worth noting that after the municipal elections in 2013, CPDM had 544 municipal councillors in the North West while SDF had 522, a difference of 22 in favour of the CPDM. The numbers do not stand the same today as a couple of them have died within the past five years.
Where will the CPDM concede?
Many have been asking the raison d’etre of the SDF decision going in for an election which they know the CPDM has all the chances of winning the 70 seats since they have majority of councillors in all the regions.
In a reaction to The SUN, Senator Tsomelu Jean and SDF secretary general noted that the party convention had taken the resolution that the party should never boycott any election. On their chances of winning, he said they are confident taking into consideration the performance of SDF Senators.
It is in this same light that the South West SDF regional chairman responded to The SUN. He said throughout the Anglophone crisis only SDF MPs have voiced their concern while the CPDM Senators from the South West and North West have remained dumb. “Though it is an indirect election, we believe the councillors will listen to the voices of the population”, dixit Mayor Ndobegang.
Notwithstanding, many are of the opinion that the CPDM party especially President Biya will have to deliberately decide to concede some regions to the opposition and especially the SDF for they to have any chance of grabbing any senatorial seats. It should be noted that the president has the prerogative of appointing 30 senators to correct any imbalances and satisfy political friends and cronies.
In 2013 the CPDM conceded the West and Adamawa regions to the SDF. In return the West was compensated with the post of Senate president to the detriment of the South West. Of recent, there are strong hints that the position of Speaker of the House may go to the South West with Hon. Emilia Monjoa Lifaka in pole position. Will Biya then concede the South West Senate seats to the SDF? It is a burning question.
Though the CPDM has a slight advantage in the North West, the race is tougher this time with the Anglophone crisis where it seems the population has completed vomited political leaders in the two English-speaking regions.
This is one more time for President Biya to show his deftness and try ro give the Senate elections a taint of credibility and legitimacy by avoiding a one party Senate.
According to section 164 of the electoral code, all political parties vying for the March 25 Senate Elections are expected to submit their files on Thursday, February 22 at the latest.
The law says: “”Candidatures shall, within 15 (fifteen) days from the convening of the electorate, be made out in nomination paper in triplicate, bearing the legalised signature of candidates”.
Copies of the candidature files must also be submitted to the Constitutional Council by the candidate or his representative, against an acknowledgement of receipt.
The CPDM and the SDF have since been gripped by the internal fever of positioning candidates for this election.
The CPDM is heading for an implosion with several lists emerging. The central committee of the party is expected to reconcile and submit the lists to the appropriate quarters within the prescribed deadline.
ELECAM updates voter lists
Elections Cameroon has updated the electoral list and shared the number of voters per polling station.
In respect of Section 224 (1) of the Electoral Code which provides that, “ On publication of the decree convening the electoral college, the list of senatorial electors shall be updated,” the election governing body, Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) has been leaving no stone unturned.
Statistics at the headquarters of ELECAM indicate that electoral list for the March 25, 2018 senatorial election has been updated considering that only municipal councilors are the electors.
The information indicates that initially 10, 622 electors were expected to cast their votes but after updating of the list, 9,666 voters will effectively cast their votes.
The updating of the list which initially contain the councillors who were voted during the 2013 municipal election consist of showing additions and deletions resulting notably from death, loss of voting rights, various cases of ineligibility and disqualification for membership as provided by law.
The official publication of the updated list will be done in the days ahead in conformity with Section 224 (3) of the Electoral Code which states that, “the updated list of senatorial electors shall be published at least 30 days before the voting date.”
Elections Cameroon has also shared out the number of electors per polling station and come up with 81 polling stations for the March 25, 2018 senatorial election. Section 227 (1) of the Electoral Code provides that, “Voting shall be conducted in the headquarters of each division.”
The Centre Region has the highest number of effective electors 1,865 with 15 polling stations being equally the highest number. The Adamawa Region has the least number of electors totally 573.
Reports from the Centre Regional Delegation of Elections Cameroon indicate anthill activities to prepare for the hitch-free election. Reliable sources at the Communication unit state that as the updated list is being fine-tuned, registration cards are also being produced.
This is another important aspect of the election which has to be taken seriously now to meet the deadline. Talking specifically about the cards, Section 226 (1) of the Electoral Code provides that, “Registration cards shall be distributed by the divisional branches of Elections Cameroon, within the 20 days preceding the elections.”