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Biya Rejects 2-Round Presidential Election 

By Yerima Kini NsomBiya 1

Despite several demands by different stakeholders, the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, has rejected outright the institution of a two-round Presidential election.
An authoritative Government source told The Post that a bill that will be tabled in Parliament soon, does not make provision for a two-round Presidential election.

The source that requested not to be cited did not say why the authorities took exception to the institution of a two-round election which was one of the recommendations of the Electoral Assistance Division of the UN. The officials of the Division, led by Tadjoudine Ali-Diabeté, made the recommendations during a visit to Yaounde in 2010.

Our source indicated, however, that the bill that may see the light of day during the upcoming Parliamentary session is an embodiment of a wide gamut of electoral reforms.
The bill, The Post learnt, provides for a single ballot paper and the reduction of the voting age limit from 20 to 18. The age limit provision, especially, will lay to rest arguments from the civil society that the 18-year-old youth, who make up the a huge chunk of the country’s population, are being unjustly disenfranchised.

The Post learnt that the bill also provides for the softening up of the conditions for independent candidates to run for Presidential election. The current electoral law provides that anybody who wants to emerge as an independent candidate must furnish 300 signatures of prominent personalities including traditional rulers, MPs, and councillors from the 10 Regions of the country. This means that he or she has to get at least 30 signatures of such personalities from each Region.

Going by experts, such conditions were necessary to ensure that independent candidates are true representatives of the greater majority of the population. But civil society activists have dismissed the conditions as being too tough, saying they were a tacit injunction on the emergence of any independent candidate for Presidential election in Cameroon.

Since the adoption of the law governing the Presidential election in the country, nobody gunning to be an independent candidate has succeeded to get the 300 signatures.

Political scientist and varsity don, Dr. Mathias Nguini-Owona, had dismissed such a provision, as an impediment to the emergence of independent candidates, which is the democratic practice world-wide.

He told reporters that it is such a situation that has triggered the creation of many political parties in the country that exist only on paper. Cameroon that has a population of barely 20 million people has over 300 political parties. Many of such parties are satellite parties for the regime and only exist in the brief cases of their creators.

The Post learnt that the Biya regime has decided to give quality effervescence to the Presidential election by giving a chance to independent candidates. Yet, it is not known if the 300 signatures condition will be completely abrogated and what new condition will be provided in the proposed amendment of the electoral law.

According to the Executive Director of a civil society group known as NewSETA, Caxton Ateki, the reduction of the voting age limit from 20 to 18 years will franchise millions of Cameroonian youth.
He told The Post that the legal provision that puts the age limit at 20 is an injustice because, at 18, youths are mature people who take responsible decisions.

He asked why the law, for instance, would allow girls to get married at 16 years and boys at 18 and would not allow them to vote. He said if the bill is adopted, he would be happy because his campaign has been geared towards ensuring political franchise for the 18-year-old in Cameroon.
“The 18-year-olds have many rights and responsibilities…” he remarked.

Except President Biya changes his mind, The Post was informed that Parliament will also scrutinise bills on the reduction of the Presidential mandate from seven to five years and the institution of the post of Vice President of the Republic.

If the bill on Vice Presidency is adopted, the President of the Senate will cease to be the Constitutional successor of the President of the Republic.

From the look of things, the upcoming Parliamentary session that begins on Thursday, March 10, promises to be very eventful. For one thing, both the National Assembly and the Senate will elect new bureaux.

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