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AN INVESTIGATION INTO CAMEROON'S MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS

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AN INVESTIGATION INTO CAMEROON'S MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Cameroon achieved independence from French and British colonial authority in 1960 and 1961, respectively. The nation functioned as a one-party system for a significant period under President Ahmadou Ahidjo's leadership, who was in power from 1960 until 1982 (Biezen, 2017). Ahidjo's administration was known for its highly centralised power structure and little political diversity. Paul Biya became the presidency in 1982 after Ahidjo's resignation and maintained the one-party rule system. Political changes prompted the resumption of multiparty politics in 1990 due to increasing pressure both domestically and internationally. This event signified a significant change in Cameroon's political framework (Bogaards, 2020). 

Cameroon has seen a notable transformation in its political environment throughout the years. In the early 1990s, the nation transitioned from a single-party system, which had been in effect since its independence in 1960, to a multi-party one. The shift to a multi-party system was driven by a combination of internal and foreign causes, such as calls for political liberalisation and democratisation (Burke, 2018).

Expected advantages of introducing a multi-party system in Cameroon include increased political rivalry, enhanced representation, and better governance. The implementation of a multi-party system facilitated political variety and enabled the establishment of opposition parties. This concept improved political representation and offered citizens other options. Multiparty systems are linked to democratic government as they facilitate the peaceful transition of power via electoral processes (Carothers, 2016). Multiple political parties are considered vital in a well-operating democracy to foster competition. Opposition parties decrease the incumbent party's control, leading to increased competitiveness in the political arena. This might be used to reduce the authority of the current officeholder and encourage responsibility (Eme and Anyadike, 2016). 

Multi-party systems in democracies may lead to tensions, confrontations, blockages, and even violence involving certain people and political parties. This phenomenon is more common in nations where a democratic tradition has not been established in terms of tolerance, decency, courtesy, and rationalisation of decisions regarding candidates and topics. It occurs more often in areas where socio-economic circumstances are insufficient to support open conversation and tolerance (Gambo, 2016). These factors include economic challenges, low literacy rates, inadequate infrastructure, and a low pace of urbanisation. The issues linked to multipartism as a method of democratic representation in Cameroon mirror the common trends seen in emerging countries. 

Issues related to the former category include parochial, regionally-based, or tribal parties, violations of the law due to ignorance or passion, voting without proper consideration of issues or candidates, engaging in vote rigging and intimidation, lack of respect for other parties, and rejection of unfavourable electoral outcomes. This is also applicable to Cameroon, as it is in other places. 

An essential issue in multipartism in Cameroon and many Third World countries is the uncertainty among opposition parties over their role in the democratic process and their political ambitions. In Cameroon, parties that are not members of the dominant coalition tend to act as if they have the same authority as the ruling party in the political process. They have narrowed down their ambition to only achieving a position of power. This trend has not only harmed some parties in the democratic process but also prevented them from participating in other activities where political parties are crucial. The activities include educating the public on important topics, raising and influencing problems to shape public opinion constructively, acting as a moderating force in the political process, and preparing for future elections (Joseph, 2017). As seen by the Cameroonian case, certain parties have a propensity to reject the results and assert that nothing significant occurred. Some political parties have a strong understanding of their position in the democratic process, indicating a high level of awareness. These parties are likely to make significant contributions to sustaining both multipartism and the democratic process. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate Cameroon's multi-party system: challenges and prospects.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Cameroon's political environment has a multi-party system designed to promote democracy and diversity. Yet, the efficacy and durability of this system encounter many obstacles. The nation struggles with political instability, lack of transparency, and socio-economic inequality despite its adoption. Furthermore, problems including election fraud, restricted political engagement, and government repression of opposing viewpoints continue to exist (Jinadu, 2018). The future of a strong and inclusive multi-party system in Cameroon is questionable despite the problems, as stated by Joseph in 2017. The main focus of this study is to analyse the issues facing Cameroon's multi-party system and assess the potential for improving it to promote real democracy, political stability, and socio-economic growth.hence, the need to  investigate Cameroon's multi-party system: challenges and prospects.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate Cameroon's multi-party system: challenges and prospects. The specific objectives is as follows 

Analyze the evolution of  multi- party system in Cameroon. 

Identify  the challenges facing  multi-party system in Cameroon

Evaluate the impact of multi-party system on political participation  in promoting democratic principles in Cameroon.

Investigate the strategies for enhancing the  sustainability of Cameroon's multi-party system 

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the evolution of  multi- party system in Cameroon?

What are the challenges facing  multi-party system in Cameroon?

What is the impact of multi-party system on political participation  in promoting democratic principles in Cameroon?

What are the strategies for enhancing the  sustainability of Cameroon's multi-party system ?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to political parties as  it's important to note that the effectiveness and positive outcomes of a multiparty system depend on various factors, including the strength of democratic institutions, the level of political culture, and the commitment to fair and transparent electoral processes. 

The findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on   investigate Cameroon's multi-party system: challenges and prospects. Empirically, the study will analyze the evolution of  multi- party system in Cameroon, identify  the challenges facing  multi-party system in Cameroon, evaluate the impact of multi-party system on political participation  in promoting democratic principles in Cameroon and investigate the strategies for enhancing the  sustainability of Cameroon's multi-party system .

1.7 Limitations of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced

1.8 Definition of terms

Multi-Party System: a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coalition.


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