Cameroon opposition demands polls body dissolution By BISONG ETAHOBEN in Yaounde | Monday, February 13  2012 at  18:55

President of the Cameroonian electoral commission (ELECAM) Samuel Fonkam Azu'u speaks to media on October 10, 2011 in Yaounde, a day after a presidential election. The opposition wants the commission dissolved. PHOTO | AFP 

Cameroonian opposition and civil society groups are calling for the dissolution of the national elections body over what they say is a lack of credibility and its "absolute subordination" to President Paul Biya.

A meeting in Douala attended by some of the parties that fielded candidates during October's presidential election have called for the setting up of an independent body to replace ELECAM.

A statement released Monday called for the “putting in place without delay of a truly independent organ charged with the conduct of the entire electoral process...”.

Parties to the statement included the Mouvement Africain pour la Nouvelle Indépendance et la Démocratie (MANIDEM), Union Démocratique du Cameroun (UDC) and the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) which is Cameroon’s and Black Africa’s oldest political party.

Civil society organisations the Citizens Committee for Transparency and the Exercise of Liberties (COCITEL) and Gérémie Bikidik of Réseau associatif des consommateurs de l’énergie (RACE) also appended their signatures.

Ordered

The statement comes a week after President Biya ordered ELECAM to backtrack on its insistence of revising electoral registers instead of starting a fresh registration as demanded by the opposition and civil society organisations.

Before President Biya’s instruction of last week, ELECAM president Fonkam Azu’u had claimed that starting the election registration exercise all over was very expensive and government did not have money to finance it.

He said he was opting for the continuation of the revision of the electoral registers which started on January 5, 2012 and has seen low citizen participation.

The meeting blamed the “total inability of ELECAM to conduct a transparent electoral process which is equitable and credible” as well as “the absolute subordination of ELECAM to the President of the Republic, confirmed by the injunction by Mr Biya and his government...”.

Political observers here believe that after securing what most believe is his last term in office, President Biya now wants to clean the electoral slate and put in place an electoral process that would ensure transparent and credible elections, especially as they do not concern him anymore.