Cameroon: Voters Registration - Why the Stagnation?

The number of registered voters in Cameroon has hardly gone above seven million since the decision to recompile the electoral register in February 2012.

Members of the Electoral Board of Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) are mobilising to go to field to oversee the last weeks of the revision of the electoral registers for this year that ends on August 31, 2021. The terms of reference for their work on the field were validated during the ordinary session of the Electoral Board that took place in Yaounde on July 7, 2021.

Despite the efforts by Elections Cameroon, the situation of voters registers in Cameroon has remained preoccupying with a noticeable stagnation. For an estimated population of 25 million inhabitants, the number of registered voters since the decision to recompile the electoral register on February 7, 2012. The registration system is biometric meaning that the operation is greatly facilitated. The Chairman of the Electoral Board of ELECAM, Enow Abrams Egbe disclosed during the board meeting that pending the close and cleaning up of the registers, there was a total of 6,927,859 registered voters as at June 30, 2021.

Between 2021 when the recompilation of the electoral register went into force and 2018 that culminated in the holding of the October 7, 2018 presidential election, there was some noticeable improvement. Statistics from Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) indicate that there were 2,120,986 registered voters in 2012, some 4,793,503 in 2013, increased to 4,924,555 in 2014, the number moved to 5,173,614 in 2015, then 5,620,202 in 2016, reached 6,012,290 in 2017 and 6,384,305 in 2018. Veritable stagnation set in 2019 with the total number of registered voters being 6,8841,365 and 6,856,811 in 2020.

For the past two years, voters registration as well as other sectors of national life have been gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic that imposes the strict respective of barrier and social distancing measures. It is likely that the low rate of registration could be blamed on the pandemic considering that as at June 30, 2021, according to the Chairman of the Electoral Board, only 71,048 new voters had registered throughout the country. The socio-political crisis in the English-speaking North West and South West Regions is also one of the circumstantial realities that can be blamed for the situation.

The question that remains is the commitment of the actors to the success of the registration operation. There is the population on one side and the political parties that are the main beneficiaries in any election on the other side. The elections management institution (ELECAM) and other actors such as the civil society organisations should certainly have a contribution to the success or slowness in the registration operation.

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