Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Cameroon: the anglophone crisis, possible effects on October 7 Elections

Attacks, kidnappings, murders, fires in public buildings ... towns and villages in the north and south-west regions of Cameroon are becoming increasingly inhospitable for people caught between two fires in deadly clashes between security forces and armed groups of separatists. And the world wonders about the holding of the elections.

The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon started on October 6, 2016, as a sit down strike initiated by the Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), consisting of lawyer and teacher trade unions from the 2 English speaking regions of the country. This was as a result of the discontent of the English speaking Cameroonian, which presented itself in calls for federation or separation from the French speaking majority. The crisis has let to insecurity in these regions, making it difficult for people to move on with their normal daily activities. As a result, thousands have escaped to other regions, especially the Litoral and Centre regions. Those in the rural areas who do not have the means to relocate, have moved to hideout in bushes while others have run to neighbouring Nigeria.
As Cameroon’s presidential candidates get set for the October 7 elections, it is uncertain whether voting will take in all 10 regions of the country. Armed men considered as separatist in the northwest and neighbouring southwest regions have sown they will not permit “foreign elections” in their territory. To attain their objectives, they have destroyed polling stations and burned others down to ashes. They also forbade the presidential candidates from holding their electoral campaigns in these region. So far, Prophet Frank Ndifor Afanui, a candidate for the opposition; Cameroon National Citizenship Movement, is the only one who has ventured into the southwest, precisely Mutengene. Also, movement of people and vehicles is restricted in these areas, making difficult to ascertain that those present will be able to cast their votes, come October 7.
Thousands have fled to other regions. The exodus has gotten to the point where government officials are begging citizens to stay in their homes. This happened a few days back when Governor Bernard Okala Bilai, of the southwest region, visited the Mile 17 motor park, urging the panic stricken passengers to go back to their homes. He said “those who are abandoning their homes, you can see the here, the luggage, beds, furniture. No, where are they going? No, we want them to stay at home”. His plea seems to fall on deaf ears as the population continues to run for their safety day after day. This is a major impediment for the upcoming election, as these displaced people cannot cast their votes out the areas where they were registered.
Some people say the October 7 election is a charade and abuse of power by the government, and also a ploy to rubberstamp the incumbent Paul Biya in power for another 7 years. It is abnormal for a government to organise elections in a country torn apart by a growing crisis. “The most important thing the government needs to do at this moment is to find long lasting solutions to the ongoing crisis, not organising elections when there is no body to vote them”.
It should be noted that the population of the northwest and southwest region makes up about 10% of the population of Cameroon. If these people are unable to vote due to the ongoing crisis, it will be hard to say that the results of the election is fair, as the opinion of all Cameroonian will not be heard.

The article of the editorial AFRIC

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