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ELECAM Director General Has Ordered the Publication Of Voters 

Interviewed By Ernest Sumelong — Voters’ registration lists will soon be published following instructions from the Director General of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM. This was disclosed by Southwest Delegate of ELECAM, Emmanuel Njang, who, in this interview, says they recorded many cases of multiple registrations. He also explains why the lists were not published before the distribution of cards. Excerpts:

The Post: How many cards are available for distribution in the Southwest Region?
Emmanuel Njang: As regards the voters’ cards from Yaounde, we received a total of 143,194 cards. These cards were distributed as follows; Fako Division had 107, 847 cards, Kupe Muanenguba had 1,991, Lebialem had 16,122 cards, Meme 15,295 and Ndian had 1,739.

Manyu Division did not receive any cards because the production was still ongoing. I am very certain that, in a couple of weeks, Manyu will have their cards. As regards the totality of the cards produced, we received only about 44.7 percent. After finding out from the Council Branch head of Buea, I realised that there was a lot of enthusiasm in the withdrawal of cards.

Approximately 1,500 people have already withdrawn their cards. We are encouraging those who have not done so to hurry to the ELECAM branch offices to pick up their cards. We also want to remind the public that the Director General of ELECAM has re-launched the registration process. We should use this opportunity to fill the gab, because during the last phase of the exercise, the Southwest was almost close to the last.

Has the Delegation identified cases of multiple registrations?
Well, you know that we have a software that detects cases of multiple registrations. We have detected many and they have all been sorted out.

About how many?
We can’t give you an exact number because the sorting was done in Yaounde. We are also carrying out verifications at our level to make sure that those multiple cases don’t go through. In subsequent weeks, we may be able to give the figures, if there are any.

But our major problem now, in the distribution of cards, is that we have not yet gone to the field. Any time from now, since the Director General has sent the means, we will start visiting the polling stations. So, we are inviting potential voters to wait for the calendar of the distribution which will be published by each council branch head.

In principle, ELECAM was supposed to publish voters’ lists, but this has become problematic.
It is not really problematic. The issue, as I said, is the problem of multiple cases of voter registration. We want to make sure that they are sorted out before the lists are published. I want to assure you that distribution is going along with the list.

We scrutinise the cards and the lists and eventually the lists will be published. You know we are dealing with machines and the machines can, on their own, print double cards. For instance, if current runs out, it can start repeating the process as if it has not done anything. And it is because of that that we are taking our time, and after that this list will be returned to the head office in Yaounde for a final production.

Is that not contravening the law that provides for publication before distribution of cards?
When you talk about contravening the law, what do we want here; is it perfection or just respecting the law and then do the wrong thing? I think our electoral system is just new and we are striving at perfection. And this perfection requires a lot of inputs. There are rectifications that are still going to be made in their names. So, when correcting these names at the time when we are issuing the cards, we will be sure of the information that we will be giving to the public.

Could ELECAM not rectify all the issues of multiple registrations before distributing the cards? What was the haste in launching the distribution process before publishing the lists?
The electoral code states that once the registration is over and the cards printed, the Director General is empowered to commence with distribution of cards. As we speak, the Director General of ELECAM has given instructions that council branch heads publish the lists and they will soon be published.

After the re- launch of voters’ registration, how has the response been?
The re-launch is still as timid as usual. The Southwest Region is always very slow in taking action in most political activities. So, this time around we are praying that they should get out of their cocoons and actually register to boost the figures of the Southwest Region.

What challenges do you face with the re-launch of the voters’ registration?
The challenges are that of apathy. The people are not turning out the way we expect them to turn out, especially in some urban areas. As for the rural areas, there is not much we expect from them again. In areas like Ndian, those are areas that are sparsely populated and we don’t expect much from there. But in the urban areas, many people did not register at the time we were registering. It is now time for us to invite them to join us.

Are you still receiving collaboration from political parties?
The political parties are collaborating, but they have not yet announced their participation in this second phase. I have been following the activities of political parties and the Southwest has not yet begun, and I hope they will get on board as soon as they are ready.

First published in The Post print edition no 01438

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