Dire challenges for senatorial election.


The objective of the meeting which was in line with the stipulation of the law, he pointed out, was “to achieve a massive, informed, effective, equitable and above all inclusive participation of all actors in the electoral process”.

For that to be attained, the Board Chair insisted “on the sensitisation and education of the electors for a better appropriation of the legal framework and the standards in the matter; as well as during the constitution and the deposit of the declarations of candidacies”.

He said ELECAM officials will be deployed to the field to review the available electoral logistics, monitor the process of updating the voters' register, evaluate the socio-electoral climate in the various constituencies, with emphasis to regions facing security threats.

 The Guardian Post is delighted ELECAM is not unaware of the perilous situation its staff, electors and candidates shall face in the North West and South West  regions which have been in a bloody conflict for six years.

That conflict has made participation of electors difficult. Candidates have come under threats including staff of ELECAM one of who is known to have been killed for just doing his work, though against the devilish caprices of some separatist fighters.

Just after ELECAM met in Yaounde to declare that it will focus "on regions facing security threats" to ensure a conducive and safe atmosphere for an inclusive election, one of its staff was killed in Bamenda.

Yufola Gilbert was murdered at his home in Foncha Street in the Bamenda III subdivision by unidentified armed men who are said to oppose the holding of the elections.

The assassination comes a few days after separatists, including one of their leaders, Ayaba Cho, announced the ‘ban’of elections in the two crisis-ridden regions.

The Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji who is also Permanent Secretary of the National Security Council and the army have promised to do everything possible for the peaceful holding of the ballot.

The murder of Yufola who is said to be attached to the Jakiri office of ELECAM but relocated temporarily to Bamenda for security reasons  is an indication of what the vagabonds claiming to be fighting for the "independence" of the two regions, yet using it to line their pockets can do.

It is also proof that though the separatist fighters have been significantly weakened and in rival splinter groups, they remain a threat that should not be taken lightly as the senatorial election is concern.

Being an Electoral College poll, it is easy for the criminals to identify the electorate, most of who reside in the regions unlike the candidates some of who are internally displaced.

ELECAM officials in Yaounde and the government are aware of the threat. They can still carry out the elections under such risky terrain as they have done before. But how credible will it be in the two regions even if voters are transported to vote in areas perceived to be safe? Can an "all inclusive participation of all actors in the electoral process”, as the ELECAM chair urged be achieved in an environment where voters, candidates and election officials are under the shadows of death threats and kidnapping for ransom?

 It is not within the competence or jurisdiction of ELECAM to provide security for those under threat. That duty lies squarely on the sensitive shoulders of the government that has insisted on a military option to end the conflict in the two regions.

That option has not succeeded to bring peace. It continues to be an economic impediment and logjam on the electoral process in the two regions where citizens are unable to determine who rules them for fear of the consequences of violating the satanic orders from separatist warlords.

 In previous elections, participation in the two regions has been around 15 percent. Electors and candidates at council polls are known to have been kidnapped.  EEECAM officials in risky zones have had to be moved to relatively safe areas, yet it is distressing to know that another was murdered in Bamenda this week.

What is the assurance that more will not still be on harm's way as ELECAM prepares for the March 12 poll? While The Guardian Post extends condolences to the bereaved family, it uses the opportunity to challenge the government and security mechanism at its disposal to ensure such fatality does not occur again. But can it succeed in an asymmetric conflict in which it is hard to identify the criminals?

That is why the ball as usual remains on the presidential court to heed to the voices of diplomats, bishops and other well-wishers to convene an inclusive dialogue to end the bloodbath that remains a threat not only to the electoral process but also to socio-economic advancement of the entire country. 

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