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Cameroon: Pro-Independence Mov’ts Ban Senate Election, CPDM/SDF Sell Party Discipline, Councilors Charge CFA F 300.000 a Vote

By March 7, 2023No Comments
Enw Abrams Egbe is the President of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM

Cameroon will on March 12, 2023, elect new senators, through an electoral college in polls that are unlikely to change the country’s political trajectory.

The ruling party will retain full control of the Senate thanks to 30 political appointees that are reserved for Cameroon’s long-serving leader, Paul Biya.

Even before a ballot can be cast, Paul Biya, who has been Cameroon’s President for over 40 years already, has 30 percent of the Senate meaning only 70 percent are up for grabs through the electoral college. Senate is made up of 100 members but only 70 are elected, while the remaining 30 are presidential appointees.

The erstwhile all-powerful SDF Party is today only a shadow of itself, even its Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi now moves around guarded by government forces in his hometown

The Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) under Biya has also used a combination of bribery and harassment to guarantee the capture of a majority of the remaining seats.     

In the former UN Trust Territory of British Southern Cameroons, only two political parties applied to compete for the fourteen seats. In the Southwest region, CPDM’s control is unquestionable while in the Northwest region, the CPDM is competing with the party of nemesis turned ally Fru Ndi, the Chairman of the Social Democratic Front (SDF).

Led by Mochiggle Vanegansin, the SDF campaign group is confident it will win the Northwest region even if the party’s support has dwindled over the years. Because of the dwindling support, SDF is only guaranteed thirty members of the electoral college from Bamenda III Council, yet the councilors eligible to vote in the Northwest are in their thousands.

Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI/Shutterstock, President of Cameroon Paul Biya attends the U.S. Africa Space Forum on the first day of the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC on Tuesday, December 13, 2022. U.S. Africa Space Forum On Day One of the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit, Washington, District of Columbia, United States – 13 Dec 2022

Following Fru Ndi’s decision to join a coalition with the ruling party, support for the SDF has been dwindling. The party once considered a stakeholder in Ambazonia’s struggle for self-determination now must field accusations of being just like the ruling party and buying votes.

Minister Rose Mbah Acha, the Momo Division’s campaign leader, casually advised her Councilors that she had been informed that SDF was giving out CFA F 300,000 ($486) for a vote.

To ensure that no councilors are bribed by the SDF, the mayors running the Councils won by CPDM were instructed by the Campaign leader for the Northwest Region, former Prime Minister Philemon Yang, to make sure councilors feel comfortable before, during, and after voting. Instead, these mayors have locked these councilors in hotels where they will be housed and fed until election day.

Councilors were reminded of party discipline and that anybody who diverts his or her vote would be known.  Senator Mochiggle, leader of the SDF in the Northwest, called on councilors in the region to vote for those who will stand up for their interests in the upper house. As for whether his team would splash 300,000 CFA F for a vote, as alleged by the CPDM, he says the only weapon the SDF has is to talk to their consciences to elect his list which is composed of the real representatives who can speak and defend the interests of the region.

Extreme violence is real all over the former UN Trust Territory of British Southern Cameroons as the military kills whoever they care to with impunity, and this is where pro-independence movements have proscribed the upcoming senate election.

In a list that suggests the ruling party is looking to reduce the number of very old men in their ranks; the CPDM has nominated only one serving Senator, Emma Lafon. Francis Enwe who was in Parliament for two mandates is an old face on the list of those to be voted to join the Senate. The remaining six candidates are newcomers.   

The SDF list has four current Senators with three newcomers all headed by Senator Mochiggle Vanegansin. 

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