Cameroon gives franchise to diasporaBy BISONG ETAHOBEN in Yaounde | Monday, July 11 2011 at 18:34
A Bill that gives Cameroonians in the diaspora the vote has been passed into law.
The Bill sailed through during an extraordinary session of the National Assembly.
Opposition groups and civil society organisations have, however, termed the new law a “political gimmick” by the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) party to gain political capital and extra votes from abroad during the forthcoming elections.
"The law comes into effect within the context of national laws that do not provide for dual nationality for Cameroonians living abroad. We all know that most Cameroonians living in Europe and America have the nationalities of their host countries, so they cannot vote at Cameroonian elections since their Cameroonian nationality is automatically withdrawn when they acquire foreign nationality," argued Owona Nguini, a university professor.
"It is an empty shell of a law," he said.
Though MPs of the leading opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) voted in favour of the bill, some senior members of the party fear the proviso that voting be held at consular offices of Cameroon diplomatic missions abroad could give room for manipulation by government appointees and, necessarily, CPDM sympathisers.
Not all, or most, of Cameroonians living abroad are citizens of the countries hosting them. As such, many will be eligible to vote in Cameroonian elections under the new law.
The government estimates that as many as 5 million Cameroonians reside in other countries.
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