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UN Probes Cameroon’s Political Climate, ELECAM’s Needs 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

Ahead of the 2018 elections in Cameroon, a four-member Exploratory Mission of the UN Electoral Assistance Division is in Cameroon to evaluate the needs of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM, and how favourable the environment is for elections.

The mission, headed by Senior Electoral and Political Advisor in the Department of Political Affairs, Akinyemi Adegbola from New York, on July 10, paid a courtesy visit to the ELECAM headquarters in Yaounde.

Others members of the mission are Pascale Roussy of the same department with Adegbola; a representative of the UNDP headquarters in New York, Dieudonné Tshiyoyo; and the Special Assistant of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Africa, Nadjita Francis Ngarhodjim.

They met members of the ELECAM Electoral Board headed by Abrams Enow Egbe and later had a working session with the Director General of Elections, Abdoulaye Babalé.

Speaking to reporters on the importance of such a UN Mission at ELECAM at this point in time, the Electoral Board Chair, Enow Egbe, said the visit is in line with the relationship the electoral body has with the UN.

“We have important elections in 2018 and they are here to discuss with us and assess our needs.

They are experts from the UN Electoral Assistance Division whose reputation is well known around the world and so the importance of their visit here cannot be undermined. We have to work with them for the continuity of the electoral process aimed at being transparent and reputable,” he stated.

On what ELECAM expects in terms of the needs from the UN, Enow Egbe said they are leaving that to the UN Exploratory Mission, but remarked that the needs are varied.

He said what they want would be put on the table and what they will arrive at will be based on a common accord.

He disclosed that computer programmes used at the last election were provided by the UN.

According to Adegbola, the head of the mission, the objective of the visit is very simple.

“We received a request from the President of ELECAM for some form of assistance from the UN.

We have a system in the UN by which each time we receive a request, we deploy a needs assessment mission to determine in which areas the UN might be able to provide the assistance and under which conditions we have to collaborate with the organisation.

Adegbola said they are also in Cameroon to look at the environment in which elections will take place so that they can design the assistance to meet the actual needs and not just based on their own ideas of how it should look like.

On what the UN is expected to provide exactly, the mission head declared: “We will find out. The request signed by the President is quite clear in defining our area of assistance. It talks about information, education and communication.

“We will focus on that but we will also look at other possibilities and areas of assistance in which we can collaborate with partners to meet the needs of Cameroon in the areas identified,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, in an information sheet signed by the UNDP Interim Resident Representative in Cameroon, Bouri Sanhouidi, the mission members, during their stay in Cameroon, would, in addition to the working session with ELECAM officials, also meet and exchange with stakeholders including political parties and civil society representatives.

The Adegbola led mission is also expected to meet some government officials and heads of some institutions.

Voters’ Card Distribution

In a related story, ELECAM has published the rate of distribution of voters’ cards in the 10 regions as of July 7, 2017. Out of a total of 6,063,685 cards produced, 5,799,121 have been distributed, giving a percentage of 95.66. The number of cards still to be collected stands at 264,564.

Regionally, the distribution rate as of last July 7 is: Adamawa 97.71 percent; Centre 91.43 percent; East 98.90 percent; Far North 99.49 percent; Littoral 91.41 percent; North 98.72 percent; Northwest 93.25 percent; West 97.86 percent; South 94.56 percent and Southwest 89.81 percent.