One of my five elections to watch in 2011 was the Cameroonian Presidential Election, which was held last Sunday, October 9. My friend Kah Walla was the nominee of the Cameroon Peoples Party (CPP), challenging along with other candidates the re-election of the sitting president, Paul Biya. Congratulations to Kah for running for president, and for engaging voters in a meaningful way.
Here is a report from the field about some of what happened on Election Day:
Poor technical management
The registration process was inadequate. Registrations were carried out manually and the use of technology was very limited. As a result, the voters register was filled with people who figured multiple times, which resulted in them having multiple voters cards. Lists were not posted on time and many people could not find their polling stations, finally many people were not able to collect their voting cards.
The electoral authority did not get materials to all polling stations on time. As a result in some parts of the country voting did not start till 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon and as a result many people who came out in the morning, left without voting.
Reports of Fraud
Many voters were caught with 5, 10 and even 20 voting cards.
Ink was not indelible, so people could vote multiple times. In many parts of the country voters were not identified; polling agents of opposition parties were denied access to polling stations; ballots of opposition parties were denied to voters; contrary to the law, all opposition polling agents were forced to leave the polling stations and counting then took place in secret with only the ruling party present.
Intimidation and Violence
In several incidents, administrative officials intimidated polling agents and representatives of opposition parties, chasing them out of polling stations.
One opposition party, SDF, is reporting the murder of one of its militants in an incident with ruling party militants and police.
After being forced out of polling stations, opposition polling agents are now being intimidated to sign minutes of the polling station when they had no part in the counting process.