Senatorial Elections 2023: Armed Conflict shrink Observers in NW

By Bakah Derick 

Councilors in the North West Region on Sunday 12 March 2023 joined their colleagues nationwide to vote Senators for the third legislature in Cameroon. The elections that took place in all divisional headquarters according to the Minister of Territorial Administration happened in the North West with no visible national or international observers. 

The absence of these observers largely caused by the ongoing armed conflict has been received with mix feelings by the opposition political. 

"This really didn't mean anything to me because I don't trust them. Election is a process and most often, these observers seat and show up on the eve of elections and then run up and down on election and start making pronouncements on the credibility of the process. This is not correct. If they must observe the process, they have to be there well ahead of time to get details about the process." Vanigansen  Mochiggle Senate Vice President and Senatorial Elections list leader of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) said. 
The incumbent Senator added that the Catholic Church has a solid election observation team but casted doubts if the government could give them accreditation considering the quality of their previous reports.

According to SDF District Chairperson for Bamenda III, the presence of the observers was necessary.

"Yes I think they should have been around. I didn't see any of them and this is disturbing. In as much as the elections had very little stakes, it was important to have the observers around." Lucas Ngu Afong said. 

Party representives are reported to have been in all the polling centers to ensure the safety of their votes. 

Cameroon's Minister of Territorial Administration-Nji Paul told the press just shortly after the polls officially closed that "more than 3000 national and International Observers were accredited" by his ministry to observe the elections. 

Observers according to election experts are expected to to observe the election process and, as appropriate, ask procedural questions of election officials, challenge the eligibility of individual voters or the manner in which votes are counted, and lodge protests with election officials. In Cameroon, they are expected to forward a report to the ministry of Territorial Administration. 

Though voting ended just shortly afternoon in majority of the polling centers across the region, polls officially closed at 6pm as per the law making room for counting to begin. With the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) controlling all but one council in the North West alongside the Regional Council, results are largely expected to be in their favour. 

Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) charged with the management of the electoral process will begin collation from the Divisional to the Regional and then national before handing to the Constitution Council for eventual proclamation of the results which may not last over 30 days after the voting.