Running Battles, Gunfire & Deaths at Polling Booths Characterize Cameroon’s First Regional Elections
Cameroon conducted its first-ever regional elections Sunday, December 6, nationwide. The electoral college was made up mainly of municipal councillors elected during a highly boycotted poll on February 9, 2020. In some parts of the country, two electors of the third age succumbed at polling stations due to illness. The motivation for these aged men who lost their lives going to vote, both traditional rulers, was a CFA F 50,000 disbursement by the government as an enticement to vote for the ruling CPDM party.
Fon Angwafo III of Mankon, Vice President of the CPDM Party
In the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons, the people had to elect members to two houses of chiefs, one in Bamenda and the other in Buea as part of a special status President Paul Biya decreed for the area. Among the 384 Chiefs who were expected to participate in the election of twenty of their peers were the Paramount Fons of Nso and Mankon. Fon Sehm Mbinglo of Nso who has been on exile in Yaounde in the last two years was seen casting his vote at Tobin in kumbo upon return the night before in a heavily guarded military convoy.
After participating in an election that was highly rejected by the people of former UN Trust Territory who want nothing but outright independence, the Fon of Nso told pressmen r that, “......Just like the failure of Biafrans to gain independence in late 1960 from the Nigerian government, the Separatists will not succeed in their quest for independence…”
In the run-up to the elections, Southern Cameroons Pro-Independence groups called for a complete lockdown and desertion of the towns and villages in protest. The call was respected religiously as the people stayed home, while armed groups engaged in running battles with security forces in most areas. Device explosions were reported in several precincts, including Buea the capital of Southern Cameroons.
Nsehm Mbinglo, Paramount Fon of Nso now on exile in Yaounde
In Kumbo, even as voting was taking place in Tobin, the larger part of the town was under attack with deafening sounds of gunshots frightening even birds and animals that could be seen either flying or running in terror. The intensity of the fighting informed the visiting Fon of Nso that staying in the village another night was not advisable. Following reports that a councillor of the Widikum Council who went to vote in Mbengwi, Momo Division was killed on his way back to Bamenda when bullets tore through an armoured car, the Governor airlifted Fon Mbinglo out of Kumbo back into exile.
In Bamenda precisely at the old public works building, the Fon of Mankon Fon Angwafor II, who had been ferried out of his palace days before and lodged in one of the hotels at up station, was seen hand-supported casting his vote. He was immediately chauffeured away without a word.
The Paramount Fon of Bafut, Fon Abumbi II did not feature on the list of Fons to vote in Mezam. Timescape Magazine learnt that the First Class Fon never moved from his palace which is less than 0 miles from Bamenda. Upon inquiries, Timescape Magazine further learnt that the Fon did not show up to put his name on the voters’ registers with the election management body, Elections Cameroon (ELECAM). The Mezam list of 32 Fons was filled with names of quarter heads with two from Chomba village and three from Bafut.
Apart from the complete lockdown in the whole of Mezam, were gun battles in Akum, Santa some 3 miles away from Bamenda where a Priest by name Anthony Viban and a Seminarian on their way to officiate Mass sustained bullet injuries and were rushed to the general hospital. At Alahbukam in Mankon, a military convoy was attacked by pro-independence fighters and a councillor from Widikum, retired Customs Office Encho Elias received a deadly bullet in the head which left him lifeless on the spot.
In Ndop, a young man who disguised as one of those providing food for electors and being ferried around by military was apprehended with explosive devices belted under his dress. Reports say he wanted to plant the explosive amidst the electors but was stopped before time. His lifeless body was seen laying a distance away from the polling station.