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ASSESS THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATE IN PROMOTING DEMOCRACY THROUGH ELECTIONS IN CAMEROON

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ASSESS THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATE IN PROMOTING DEMOCRACY THROUGH ELECTIONS IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Since the Westphalia treaty of 1648, governments have prioritised political and economic aims, establishing themselves as the primary actors in international relations. The era after the Cold War, when France and the United States were seen as the main foreign powers with significant interests in sub-Saharan Africa, is coming to an end (Ayang, 2017). The rise of international organisations (IOs), individuals, and Multinational Corporations (MNCs) as secondary players indicates a decrease in the state's supremacy in the global arena. States aim to achieve both political and economic objectives, which may be pursued simultaneously. Realist academics believe that as nations engage in cooperation across many domains, they also get entangled in politicised endeavours. 

Recently, "Democracy" has become popular in the developing countries. This should be seen in the perspective of the "Democratic revolution" or "Third wave" of democratisation (Alidu  and  Gyekye-Jandoh, 2016). After the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s and the U.S and its Allies became dominant global powers, nations in the global south have faced significant pressure. Previously characterised by military and one-party dictatorships and personal control. These nations were compelled to give up their traditional practices and adopt liberal democracy, which is common in Western countries and now imposed on less powerful governments as a need for assistance and effective collaboration. External influence aligned with, or strengthened, internal demands to compel governments to implement democratic changes (Aeby, 2016).  Democracy has become a prominent focus in aid policy and development thought, perhaps surpassing sustainable development as the primary concern for foreign policymakers. The notion originated at the World Bank and has been adopted by Western governments, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank (WB) as a crucial aim and requirement for official development aid. After the Cold War, a new focus on democracy, good governance, and political systems emerged. Issues such as unemployment, poverty, income disparities, the growth of the parallel economy, black markets, and criminal networks in countries that had recently adopted neoliberal policies, like the former Soviet Union and parts of Africa, led to the belief that global neoliberalism could only thrive in a well-governed environment. It was not the neoliberal model itself that hindered progress in democratic reforms, but rather the ineffective, corrupt, and immature state administration. Since the early 1990s, there has been a shift from advocating for less state intervention in democratic processes to advocating for more state engagement.  Cheeseman (2015) asserts that this modern democratic approach should not be mistaken for a call to return to a powerful (Keynesian or socialist) government. It suggests improved and transparent administration of the remaining state after the implementation of neoliberal restrictions. The focus on good governance often included a push for democratisation. Just like sustainable development, the worldwide trend of democracy has been difficult to avoid. The notion has gained widespread acceptance in political and intellectual spheres, while it has caused some concern in developing nations over potential imperialist intervention. Overall, it has been well welcomed (Coetzee, 2016). Who would oppose a broad and ambiguous notion like democracy with all its associated variations? 

By 2000, democracy was widely acknowledged as a solution for achieving development and reducing poverty, as shown by world leaders adopting the United Nations Millennium Declaration. Democracy is not a singular notion. Democracy is generally seen in a favourable light, but it really encompasses at least three distinct perspectives on development, as noted by Gaffey (2017). 

Many Africans have been frustrated by the absence of what they expected to be a more vigorous and sophisticated U.S. involvement in Africa. The U.S. focuses on health, sustainable development, counterterrorism, military and strategic partnerships, conflict resolution, democratisation, and good governance in Africa. 

The relationship between Cameroon and the United States began in May 1957 when Robert C. Foulon was designated as Consular Officer to Cameroon, and a U.S. Consulate was established in Yaoundé on July 5, 1957. The Consulate was upgraded to a Consulate General on April 10, 1959. The American Consulate General in Yaoundé, Cameroon was upgraded to an Embassy on January 1, 1960, after the official independence of French-speaking Cameroon. Cameroon-U.S. relations began in the 1960s when the U.S. established diplomatic ties with Cameroon in 1960 after the country gained independence from French administration. Since then, Cameroon has had two presidents while the U.S. has had 45. The relationship between the two countries has generally been positive, although issues such as human rights abuses, economic and political liberalisation, democracy, and good governance have occasionally caused concerns (Ghai, 2016). The two nations collaborate to combat regional challenges to stability, like as Boko Haram, and work together on topics related to good governance, democracy, regional security, environmental protection, public health, and economic and social growth. The U.S. aims to collaborate with Cameroon to further democratic progress and economic development, especially as Cameroon prepares for the next presidential election in 2018. The United States backs Cameroon in improving electoral institutions, increasing transparency, and enabling challenges to election results (Hasa, 2016).  Over the past decade, the United States has pursued a proactive and adaptable foreign policy, promoting its capitalist values by supporting democratic processes in countries like Cameroon. Despite facing opposition from China and Russia, the U.S. aims to maintain its position as a leading global power. Therefore, the researcher sought to assess the role of the united state in promoting democracy through elections in Cameroon.

Statement of the problem

The promotion of democracy, especially via facilitating and monitoring elections, has been a key aspect of international relations and foreign policy, with the United States often playing a leading role. In Cameroon, a nation known for its political intricacies and sometimes election issues, it is crucial to comprehend the effectiveness and consequences of U.S. intervention in promoting democratic procedures(Hasa, 2016). Although the United States claims to encourage democratisation in Cameroon, it is unclear how successful these initiatives have been in promoting lasting democratic processes. This uncertainty arises from issues such as low transparency and accountability, local political dynamics, socio-cultural context, threats to election integrity, and the conflict between long-term democratisation and short-term strategic goals. The main issue of this study is to assess the United States' involvement in advancing democracy via elections in Cameroon, taking into account the problems and complexity described(Kendemeh, 2018). This research seeks to provide a thorough examination of the effectiveness and consequences of foreign democracy promotion activities in Cameroon by investigating the nature, extent, and effects of U.S. initiatives in the area. Hence, the need to  assess the role of the united state in promoting democracy through elections in Cameroon. 

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective is to assess the role of the united state in promoting democracy through elections in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To examine the impact of US-funded democracy promotion programs on electoral processes  in Cameroon.

To assess the perceptions of Cameroonian citizens regarding the role of the United States in fostering democracy through elections in their country.

To identify the challenges encountered by the United States in its efforts to promote democracy in Cameroon.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the impact of US-funded democracy promotion programs on electoral processes  in Cameroon?

What is the perceptions of Cameroonian citizens regarding the role of the United States in fostering democracy through elections in their country?

What are the challenges encountered by the United States in its efforts to promote democracy in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Policymakers: Findings from this study can have significant policy implications for both the United States and Cameroon. Identifying successful strategies or areas needing improvement can inform future policy decisions and interventions aimed at promoting democracy and enhancing governance structures in Cameroon and similar contexts.

Academic Contribution: This research contributes to the academic discourse on democracy promotion, international relations, and development studies. By examining a specific case study like Cameroon, scholars can generate new knowledge, theories, and methodologies applicable to broader discussions on democracy, governance, and foreign intervention.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on assessing the role of the united state in promoting democracy through elections in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will examine the impact of US-funded democracy promotion programs on electoral processes  in Cameroon, assess the perceptions of Cameroonian citizens regarding the role of the United States in fostering democracy through elections in their country and identify the challenges encountered by the United States in its efforts to promote democracy in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitation 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

Democracy: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

Election: a formal and organized choice by vote of a person for a political office or other position.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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