17 March 2013

Cameroon: Political Parties on Starting Blocks


Looking at the political structure of the Cameroon National Assembly, only the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) of President Paul Biya, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), headed by John Fru Ndi, the National Union for Democracy and Progress (NUDP) of Bouba Bello Maïgari, the Cameroon Democratic Union (CDU), of Adamu Ndam Njoya and the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) that has been limping on despite leadership crises have councillors and thus could visibly vie for seats in the Senate.

However, the law does not limit participation only to political parties that have councillors. That explains why the National Salvation Front (NSF) of Issa Tchiroma Bakari, the National Alliance for Democracy and Progress (ANDP) of Hamadou Moustapha and Dakole Daissala's Republican Democratic Movement (MDR) have been counting on their political strength to fill-in candidates for the Senate, knowing that the Electoral College is made of Councillors from other political parties. Understandably, the CPDM and the SDF parties have the lion's share of the battle ahead, having presented candidatures in all ten regions for the ruling CPDM party and in nine regions for the SDF which is the biggest opposition party in the country.

The interest that political parties hold concerning the Senate is not only demonstrated by the effort to be present but equally by the quality of candidates on the starting blocks. While the ruling CPDM has avoided any confusion by dropping all current parliamentarians and Councillors from its lists, the SDF has ensured participation in nine of the ten regions in the country.

Another significant reading from the lists submitted at ELECAM is the calibre of those seeking to enter the Senate. SDF Chairman, John Fru Ndi is heading his party in the North West Region with other part top brass like charismatic Mayor of Kumbu, Donatus Njong, former SDF Provincial Chairman, Bernard Tabali and Professor Emeritus, Paul Nkwi.

Within the ruling CPDM party, a marked interest is visible throughout the national territory where the party is counting on either former cabinet Ministers or business moguls to control the first-ever Senate in Cameroon. Thus, former Prime Minister, Simon Achidi Achu is ready for the heat often generated by long-standing political rivalry in Santa as he faces the SDF Chairman in the North West Region.

Next door in the West Region, there is the former Minister of External Relations, François-Xavier Ngoubeyou heading the CPDM list while business magnet, Chief Tabe Tando Ndiep-Nso heads the CPDM list in the South West Region.

Other prominent CPDM names from the various regions are Geneviève Tjoues and Thomas Tobbo Eyoum in the Littoral, Delphine Mezdjo in the South, Yousoufa Daouda in the North, Abba Boukar in the Far North, Charles Sale, Mrs Ndjole Assouo epse Tokpanou Isabelle and Benjamin Amama Amama in the East, Sylvestre Naah Ondoua, Bell Luc René, and Anong Adibime in the Centre as well as Mohaman Lamine in the Adamawa.

Given that political parties interested in the Senate respected the 14 March deadline to submit their lists of candidates, the only major issue that ELECAM may have to tackle is a decision on the three lists presented by the UPC. Whatever the outcome, it is getting clearer that the 14 April Senate election will be another litmus test to the country's democratisation process.

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