By Yerima Kini Nsom
Cameroonians abroad have expressed fears that the current delay in opening the voters’ registers in Cameroonian diplomatic services in many western countries may lead to the disenfranchisement of many potential voters.
This concern is the very essence of a meticulously worded letter the Cameroon Diaspora Council and the Cameroonian Diaspora for Freedom and Human Rights sent to the Director General of Elections at Elections Cameroon, ELECAM, Dr. Erik Essousse, recently.
The letter, which is signed by one Robert Wanto on behalf of the two organisations, complains that electoral registers have not been opened in most Cameroonian diplomatic services abroad as provided for by the law. According to the electoral code, the period for the registration of potential voters begins from January 1 and runs to August 31. But the Cameroonian Diaspora takes exception to the fact that the voters’ registers in many Cameroonian diplomatic services were not open throughout the month of January, which, to them, is a violation of the law.
For one thing, the Cameroonian Diaspora wrote the letter to the Director General of Elections on January 29 after having waited in vain for diplomatic services to open voter registration. While noting that the upcoming local and presidential elections constitute the only path for a veritable democratic emergence in the country, the Cameroonian Diaspora says it is alarming that electoral registers have not been opened in most Cameroonian diplomatic services, especially in France. They recalled that it was the same delay that reigned during the period of voter registration in 2023 (January 1 to August 31). During this period, they went on, ELECAM representatives abroad attributed the slow process to the lack of dedicated personnel, viable equipment and good material. They say they expected ELECAM to use the August 31 to December 31, 2023 hiatus to put everything in order for a smooth voter registration in 2024. They regret that nothing has changed as January, 2024 has ended without any good sign.
The Cameroonian Diaspora tells the Director General of Elections that if he is convinced that elections remain the only path through which the Cameroonian people can express their sovereignty, he should also be very worried about the non-commencement of voter registration in many Cameroonian diplomatic services abroad. The Cameroonian citizens abroad tell the Director General of Elections that they are peace-loving people who want to see the reign of justice and democracy in their country. They take exception to what they say is the undue delay that characterises registration of voters abroad and even at home. They recall that some political leaders have raised the same concerns to no avail. They cited Prof. Maurice Kamto, Hon. Cabral Libii, Hon. Patricia Tomaino Ndam Njoya and Hon. Jean Michel Nintcheu as political leaders who have equally raised the same concerns.
Going by the Cameroonian Diaspora, sustainable peace in Cameroon can only come through free, fair transparent and inclusive elections. Such a situation, further reads the letter, will ensure concord and unity in the country. Through the letter, the Cameroonian Diaspora expresses hope that ELECAM will heed their demand for the opening of voter registration in all diplomatic services so that a chance will be given to the Cameroonian people to fully achieve peace and democracy through the ballot box.
At press time, the Director of Elections was yet to react to the letter that was published in many media outlets. While reacting to the complaints Hon. Jean Michel Nintcheu raised earlier about the irregularities ailing voter registration in Cameroon, Dr. Erik Essousse declared in an exclusive interview with the French language daily, La Nouvelle Expression, that such complaints were false and baseless.