Editorial: 2025 presidentials; Lessons Cameroon must learn from Senegal.

Typically, presidential elections in many African countries often end in chaos and bloodbath. In some cases like in Gabon, it was a military takeover shortly after the announcement that then incumbent president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, had won the general election held on August 26, 2023.

Such a sad saga can only be avoided if there are strong state institutions with respect for separation of powers and an electoral code that guarantees a level playing ground without any inbuilt design to disenfranchise the youth.

Senegal has such institutions and outgoing President Macky Sall attempted to wrestle with them but was defeated. First he struggled to extend his mandate to a third term, considered by some soldiers as a "democratic corps d'etat” and was flowed. He then wanted to shift the date of the elections to January 2024 and the Constitutional Council ruled against him.

On Sunday the ruling party's candidate, former Prime Minister, Amadou Ba, was defeated.

In a shows of magnanimity and democracy, he conceded defeat and congratulated the main opposition candidate, Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye, even before the final results were declared. 

"Considering the trends of the presidential election results and awaiting the official declaration, I congratulate the president Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye on his victory in the first round," Amadou Ba said in a statement reported by Reuters.

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, President-elect, had been detained almost a year ago on charges including defamation and contempt of court, still in attempt to strangulate the opposition.

To avoid a run-off election, one candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the vote. While official results are expected this week, in previous elections candidates have announced their predictions on the same evening as the vote, unlike in Cameroon.

For The Guardian Post, there are lessons Cameroonian politicians, especially the government that has always initiated laws and make amendments, can learn from the Senegalese.

First, does the Cameroon Constitutional Council have the independence and power to annul a ruling by parliament considered to be unjust? Can the Cameroon’s Supreme Court rule against a matter brought before it as has been observed in Senegalese and Kenyan judiciary when it is the Head of State, who as chair of the Higher Judiciary Council, appoints, promotes and sanctions judiciary staff?

More importantly, why is Cameroon reluctant to amend the electoral code and introduce single ballot, make all result sheets from polling booths acceptable in court and bring down voting age to 18 as is the case in all democracies?

It is the disenfranchisement of Cameroonian youth at 18 who are prevented from voting, but are allowed to join the military and use weapons of mass destructions if need be that make voter registration in Cameroon so low.

Senegal has a population of 16.88 million, according to the UN estimates of 2021, the same year that of Cameroon was 27.8 million people. But while more than seven million Senegalese registered to vote in Sunday’s election, Cameroon's total number of voters on the uncleansed national electoral register stands at 7,523,184 electors as of last year.

Elections are about people and when laws are made to prevent the young people, it becomes an inevitable ticking time bomb.

As this daily, which has been on the forefront of the promotion of strong institutions, not men, reported yesterday, "There is a fresh and strong argument that, ELECAM must be emboldened with the powers to draw the electoral calendar, organise elections and proclaim results while the Constitutional Council should stay at the level of hearing cases that befits its competence and not declaring results”.

"The Ministry of Territorial Administration, MINAT, others are saying, must disappear from the electoral process and allow ELECAM fully in charge of the entire process. Analysts have lampooned the cases wherein after an election, MINAT is battling to outsmart ELECAM in assessing the conduct of the election," this newspaper further reported. 

Cameroon’s presidential election, which is due October 2025, has been predicted by many articulate analysts to be embroiled in an uncertainty of perils. 

CPDM sycophants continue to urge President Biya, who has been in power for 41 years, to run for a scandalous eighth term of seven years when a third in democracies is an abomination as just observed in Senegal, where the attempt to tinker the constitution was rebuffed.

The Senegalese poll, with the defeat of the governing party, has ended peacefully. It is the success of democracy not only in Senegal but in Africa, which is often mocked as "shithole" because of politicians who are prepared to spill blood to die in power.

Yaounde will be reinforcing and ameliorating its diplomatic authority in the CEMAC sub region and Africa as a whole if it can borrow a leaf from Senegal by refurbishing its electoral code and ensuring separation of powers in practice, not in theory.

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