The rerun followed Constitutional Council decision no. 29/SRCER/G/20 of February 25, 2020 to cancel the election of Members of Parliament in the following constituencies: North West Region – Menchum North, Bui West, Mezam South, Bui Centre, Bui South, Mezam Centre, Momo East, Menchum South, Momo West and Mezam North – and South West Region – Lebialem.
SDF lawyers and candidates had prayed the Constitutional Council to partially annul the elections on grounds of insecurity, and the creation of polling centres which disenfranchised their voters.
Below is Osih’s account of the March 22 rerun
Speaking Friday, Osih said “the legislative reruns of March 22nd 2020 in the eleven constituencies of the North West and South West regions, experienced serious irregularities as well as two casualties as a result of warfare and as if this is not serious enough, the Constitutional Council, to whose decision we abide, yesterday April 2, 2020, ruled against its own jurisprudence.
“On Friday March 20th, some 48 hours before the ballot, one of the vehicles of the convoy of Hon. Joseph Mbah Ndam suffered a blast due to an explosive positioned at one of the twenty-one barricades erected by armed groups between Bamenda and Batibo. This resulted in four soldiers and two civilians seriously injured. On polling day, two voters were shot and killed in a coordinated attack on polling centres in Bamenda. In Santa, our candidate was confined under his bed to avoid crossfire.
“Subsequently, the armed groups completely blocked the Santa-Bamenda road with explosive devices and barricades. He could later leave his confinement towards the end of the polls only thanks to the passing of the motorcade transporting the Minister of Territorial Administration out of the region in an armoured vehicle with about 5 accompanying bullet-proof mounted pick-ups. A couple of days after the polls, a dozen stakeholders of this unfortunate election were killed, including six councillors of the Oku Council of which two were deputy mayors.
“All eleven constituencies were subject to serious irregulars. The same elements for which the February 9, 2020 polls had been cancelled by the Constitutional Council were reproduced on March 22, 2020 namely:
“The transfer and relocation of polling stations to public regrouping centres, once again carried out without the knowledge of the population thus depriving a large part of voters of their fundamental right to vote.
“The distances for voters to get to these “polling centres” from their places of residence, often more than 30 to 80km with hostile barricades on all sides.
“The non-publication of polling stations before the ballot in the constituencies concerned. The absence of local ELECAM representatives in most of the constituencies before polling day as well as the absence of an ELECAM office in these constituencies.
“Failure to consider the security of voters, while polling stations and ELECAM staff benefited from increased security.
The impossibility to campaign, since the security promised by ELECAM and government for the SDF candidates was made available only one day before polls opened.
“It should also be noted that the instructions from the President of the Republic communicated by the Prime Minister as well as the order of the Minister of Territorial Administration dated March 17 prohibiting the assembly of more than fifty persons completely and rightfully demoralised voters in these constituencies and was consequently violated by the very administration that was meant to enforce these instructions, by organising these elections.
“Still in connection with the said ballot, the SDF observed with fright that by stubbornly organising these reruns of March 22 at any and every cost, the government threw our compatriots into the coronavirus slaughterhouse. Anglophone lives matter. Not only was it noted that basic preventive devices against this pandemic such as hydro-alcoholic solutions, simple water and soap at the entrance to the polling stations were absent but even worse was the fact that social distancing was not respected for those who dared to vote.
“The SDF strongly condemns the criminal act of the government which did not deign to respect the least of the thirteen measures taken within the framework of the fight against COVID-19 in the eleven constituencies concerned by the legislative reruns of March 22. The responsibility of the spread of the covid-19 virus within these eleven constituencies will rest entirely on the government.
“Yesterday, April 2, 2020, the Constitutional Council, in a desperate move in which they themselves violated their own jurisprudence on the exact same election, declared all the constituencies won by the ruling party, thereby confirming the little esteem this government has for the lives and the democratic rights of the people of the North West and South West Regions. We hereby would like to point out that while we do not accept this proclamation, we are bound, by virtue of our constitutional responsibilities, to respect it.
“Rather than feeling defeated by the abusive use of institutional instruments to attain democratic objectives, these reruns are proof for us that the battle for democracy and the rule of law in Cameroon is still a long one. By obtaining their smokescreen results through the use of violence, armed sponsored groups, the army and institutional instruments, the CPDM has provided to the eyes of the world, enough proof that they are disqualified from providing any lasting solution to the ongoing war in the North West and South West Regions. With this evidence, they have beyond any doubt, established their irrefutable paternity of this war.
“The SDF was not created for an election, but for the advancement of the wellbeing of the Cameroonians people through the provision of equal opportunities and social justice. We take cognisance for the fact that for two elections in a row, or three considering these reruns, the people of the North West and South West regions have been denied their human, democratic and constitutional right to vote. Now that the CPDM has trained one of the main objectives for which it has been fuelling this war, coupled with the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we call on it to put in place an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in all the wars that it entertains.
“The SDF herewith would like to sincerely congratulate the SDF candidates, their representatives, the party officials and militants and the few voters who braved the COVId-19, the secessionist fighters and the military to turn up as disenfranchised as they were by ELECAM, to vote. For us, you are the true heroes of this election. You demonstrated through your courage that only through the ballot box can Cameroon become a nation that belongs to all of its children. Thank you!
“Just like we mentioned in the last communiqué, we reiterate our call on all militants, sympathisers and Cameroonians at large to take cognisance of the imminent and real dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. The present situation calls for all Cameroonians to stand together, to put our partisan political inclinations aside, and fight this pandemic as the mother of all battles we have ever faced. These are not times for partisan politics. This pandemic calls on our solidarity and patriotism. We sincerely do hope that those in power also understand these simple predispositions.”