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ANALYSIS ON THE ROLE OF FOREIGN ELECTION OBSERVERS IN DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS IN CAMEROON

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ANALYSIS ON THE ROLE OF FOREIGN ELECTION OBSERVERS IN DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Democratic elections are a fundamental aspect of administration, guaranteeing that the opinions and concerns of the people are acknowledged and valued in the political system. The use of foreign election observers has been a prevalent practice in several countries, such as Cameroon, with the objective of augmenting the openness, equity, and reliability of electoral procedures (Birnir & Coggins, 2016). Scholars, policymakers, and practitioners have shown considerable interest in the involvement of foreign election observers in democratic elections, since they possess the capacity to exert influence on electoral results and advance democratic principles. Cameroon, a nation situated in the region of Central Africa, has encountered a multitude of obstacles pertaining to the implementation of democratic electoral processes (Ndongo, 2017). The examination of the involvement of foreign election observers in Cameroon's electoral processes is of significant importance due to the country's track record of disputed elections, accusations of irregularities, and apprehensions over electoral openness. Foreign election observers, who are dispatched to oversee different facets of the electoral process, such as voter registration, campaign activities, polling procedures, and result tabulation, are deployed by international organisations, diplomatic missions, and non-governmental organisations (Ndongo, 2017). Nevertheless, there is ongoing discussion and criticism over the efficacy and influence of foreign election observers in the democratic elections of Cameroon. Advocates contend that their existence serves as a deterrent to electoral fraud, upholds democratic norms, and enhances public trust in the electoral system. However, detractors express concerns regarding their neutrality, impact on electoral results, and the degree to which their suggestions are put into practice (Transparency International, 2019). Numerous scholarly investigations have been conducted to examine the involvement of foreign election observers in democratic elections within various settings, yielding significant findings about their roles, difficulties, and impact on the preservation of electoral integrity. Nevertheless, there is a deficiency in the existing body of research about their unique function within the electoral framework of Cameroon. In order to inform policy choices, enhance electoral processes, and develop democratic governance in Cameroon, it is crucial to comprehend the dynamics, problems, and consequences linked to the inclusion of foreign election observers in the country's democratic elections (IFFES, 2020). 

The present study aims to fill this void by doing a thorough examination of the involvement of international election observers in democratic elections within the context of Cameroon. This paper seeks to illuminate the potential and constraints associated with the engagement of these entities in Cameroon's election processes by analysing their mandates, techniques, problems, and influence on electoral integrity. Furthermore, the study will investigate the perspectives and encounters of significant actors involved in the electoral process, such as government officials, election administrators, political parties, civil society organisations, and international election observers (Ndongo, 2017). The presence of foreign election observers in Cameroon may have a substantial influence on the conduct and result of elections. They often act as a deterrence against election fraud and violations of human rights. Furthermore, the studies and proposals put out by these entities have the potential to shape public opinion, drive internal electoral changes, and garner international backing for democratic establishments. The efficacy of foreign election observers in Cameroon might be contingent upon several circumstances, including the availability of polling locations, the level of cooperation from authorities, and the political will to enact changes. Foreign election observers in Cameroon face a multitude of problems, as highlighted by Ndongo (2017). These hurdles may include limited entry to certain areas, coercion or mistreatment by authorities or political figures, constrained resources, linguistic obstacles, and apprehensions over their neutrality. Furthermore, the efficacy of foreign election monitors in preventing electoral malpractices cannot be guaranteed, since some anomalies may remain undiscovered or unattended to.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Democratic elections play a crucial role in upholding principles of openness, equity, and legitimacy within the realm of government. The integrity of elections in Cameroon, like to several other countries, has been a topic of examination, especially with regards to accusations of anomalies and a dearth of transparency. Given these concerns, there has been a growing involvement of foreign election observers in the monitoring and evaluation of the electoral process, with the aim of safeguarding democratic ideals (Birnir & Coggins, 2016). 

Nevertheless, despite the existence of international election observers in Cameroon, concerns remain about the effectiveness and influence of their participation in guaranteeing elections that are both free and fair. An in-depth examination is necessary to comprehend the impact of international election observers on Cameroon's democratic elections and their efficacy in fostering openness and accountability.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to analyze the role of foreign election observers in democratic elections in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

Assess the impact of foreign election observers on the democratic electoral process in Cameroon.

Identify  the obstacles encountered by foreign election observers in carrying out their roles effectively within the Cameroonian electoral context.

Propose strategies for enhancing the role of foreign election observers in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to further guide the study

What is the impact of foreign election observers on the democratic electoral process in Cameroon?

What are the obstacles encountered by foreign election observers in carrying out their roles effectively within the Cameroonian electoral context?

What are the proposed strategies for enhancing the role of foreign election observers in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant in the following ways

It contributes to scholarly research on electoral integrity, democratization, and governance in Cameroon and other similar contexts.

It provides insights for policymakers, election management bodies, and international organizations involved in promoting free and fair elections.

It offers guidance for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of foreign election observation missions in Cameroon and other countries facing similar challenges.

It enhances public awareness and understanding of the importance of international oversight in ensuring credible and transparent electoral processes.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on analyzing  the role of foreign election observers in democratic elections in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will assess the impact of foreign election observers on the democratic electoral process in Cameroon, identify  the obstacles encountered by foreign election observers in carrying out their roles effectively within the Cameroonian electoral context and propose strategies for enhancing the role of foreign election observers in Cameroon.

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

Foreign Election Observers: Individuals or groups, typically representing international organizations, governments, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), who are tasked with monitoring, assessing, and reporting on the conduct and fairness of electoral processes in countries other than their own. These observers are often invited by the host country or relevant international bodies to ensure transparency, accountability, and adherence to democratic principles.

Democratic Elections: Electoral processes characterized by principles of democracy, including free and fair competition, universal suffrage, transparency, accountability, and respect for human rights. Democratic elections provide citizens with the opportunity to choose their representatives through a process that is inclusive, participatory, and reflective of the will of the electorate.


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