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CREDIBLE ELECTION: ANALYZING THE ROLE OF ELECTORAL BODY ON THE CONSOLIDATION OF DEMOCRACY IN CAMEROON

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CREDIBLE ELECTION: ANALYZING THE ROLE OF ELECTORAL BODY  ON THE CONSOLIDATION OF DEMOCRACY IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

The political environment of Cameroon, which is situated in Central Africa, is characterised by a history of authoritarian leadership, ethnic diversity, and socio-economic issues. Cameroon is not an easy country to navigate. Cameroon has been plagued by political instability ever since it first gained its independence from France and the United Kingdom in 1960 and 1961, respectively (Ngoh, 2001). This instability has often been characterised by disputed elections, violations of human rights, and problems with governance. In the early 1990s, Cameroon made the transition from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy. However, the country's political progress has been plagued by charges of election fraud, violence, and repression (Tadadjeu, 2019). The development of democracy in Cameroon is confronted with considerable challenges, with the legitimacy and integrity of the election process emerging as important issues. The electoral authority, which is principally known as Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), is established with the responsibility of organising and monitoring elections at a variety of levels of government. According to Ngwanyam (2019), the legality of the results of the election has been called into question due to the fact that its independence and impartiality have been called into question. The elections in Cameroon have been plagued by anomalies, such as the intimidation of voters, the stuffing of ballots, and the manipulation of results (Ndifor, 2019). The public's trust and faith in the democratic process has been eroded as a result of the election administration's lack of openness and accountability (Konings, 2018). Furthermore, stringent legislative frameworks and biassed implementation of election rules have resulted in the marginalisation of opposition parties and a reduction in the amount of political competition (Lemarchand, 2014). 

Cameroon has also had relatively low voter participation rates, which may be attributed to dissatisfaction with the country's political system as well as the notion that voting is a pointless endeavour (Kum, 2017). According to Njoya (2019), marginalised groups, including as women, youth, and minority populations, suffer socio-economic and cultural hurdles to political involvement, which further exacerbates existing inequities in representation and decision-making. According to the United Nations (2020), the international community has consistently emphasised the need of holding elections that are credible, free, and fair as fundamental components of democracy development in Cameroon. Nevertheless, in order to accomplish this objective, it is necessary to address the systemic difficulties that are associated with election governance, institutional capacity, and public involvement. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role that the electoral body plays in the consolidation of democracy in Cameroon, taking into consideration the aforementioned context. The purpose of this research is to identify potential and challenges for improving election integrity and democratic governance in Cameroon. This will be accomplished by analysing the country's institutional structure, electoral procedures, and the influence on voter trust.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Cameroon has been confronted with ongoing difficulties in maintaining the integrity of its electoral process, despite the fact that worldwide appeals for elections that are both credible and transparent have been made as essential components in the development of democracy. Concern and scrutiny continue to be directed towards the function that the electoral body plays in the process of supporting the consolidation of democracy. The validity of election results has been damaged, and public confidence in the democratic system has been destroyed, as a result of the lack of faith in the electoral process, which has been paired with claims of irregularities and prejudice (Ndifor, 2020). Concerns have also been expressed about the electoral body's capacity to manage elections in a manner that is impartial and to maintain democratic ideals (Freedom House, 2021). This is due to the organisational independence and accountability of the electoral body being inadequate. 

In addition, the percentage of people that participate in the political process has been decreasing, which is a reflection of frustration and disappointment with the democratic process (International Foundation for Economic Systems, 2018). According to Njoya (2019), marginalised groups, such as women, youth, and minority communities, are confronted with obstacles that prevent them from participating in political processes. This further exacerbates existing disparities in political representation and restricts the inclusiveness of democratic government. The continuation of these issues constitutes a substantial barrier to the consolidation of democracy in Cameroon, which in turn impedes the advancement of the country's political system towards one that is more pluralistic, transparent, and subject to accountability. As a result, it is very necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of the function of the electoral body in the process of establishing democracy in Cameroon. In addition to analysing the influence that the institutional framework, election procedures, and voter trust in the electoral body have on the consolidation of democracy, the purpose of this study is to investigate that framework. This research intends to give insights and suggestions for strengthening the credibility and efficacy of the electoral body in fostering democratic government in Cameroon. This will be accomplished by identifying significant problems and possibilities. Hence, the study  assess Credible election: Analyzing the role of electoral body  on the consolidation of democracy in Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to assess Credible election: Analyzing the role of electoral body on the consolidation of democracy in Cameroon.. The specific objectives is as follows

Evaluate the level of independence of the electoral body in overseeing elections in Cameroon

Investigate the extent to which the electoral body adheres to international standards and best practices in conducting elections in Cameroon.

Assess the efficiency and effectiveness of mechanisms put in place for addressing electoral irregularities and disputes in Cameroon.

Provide recommendations for strengthening the electoral body's capacity to contribute effectively to democracy consolidation efforts in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to further guide the study

Evaluate the level of independence of the electoral body in overseeing elections in Cameroon

What is the extent to which the electoral body adheres to international standards and best practices in conducting elections in Cameroon?

Hoe efficient and effective are the mechanisms put in place for addressing electoral irregularities and disputes in Cameroon?

What are the recommendations for strengthening the electoral body's capacity to contribute effectively to democracy consolidation efforts in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Government: Elections are fundamental to the functioning of a democracy. Understanding the role of the electoral body in Cameroon's democratic consolidation provides insights into the overall health and stability of its democratic institutions. By analyzing how the electoral body operates, its level of independence, transparency, and effectiveness, researchers can assess the progress towards consolidating democratic norms and practices in the country.

Academia: the study will be of benefit to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on  Credible election: Analyzing the role of electoral body  on the consolidation of democracy in Cameroon.. Empirically, the study will evaluate the level of independence of the electoral body in overseeing elections in Cameroon, investigate the extent to which the electoral body adheres to international standards and best practices in conducting elections in Cameroon, assess the efficiency and effectiveness of mechanisms put in place for addressing electoral irregularities and disputes in Cameroon and provide recommendations for strengthening the electoral body's capacity to contribute effectively to democracy consolidation efforts 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

Credible Election: A credible election refers to an electoral process that is perceived as fair, transparent, and free from manipulation or coercion. It involves adherence to democratic principles such as universal suffrage, equal access to voting rights, integrity of electoral institutions, and respect for the will of the electorate.

Electoral Body: The electoral body, also known as the electoral commission or election management body, is an independent institution responsible for organizing, administering, and overseeing elections. It ensures the fairness, transparency, and legality of the electoral process by establishing electoral rules, registering voters, conducting elections, and resolving disputes.

Consolidation of Democracy: The consolidation of democracy refers to the process by which democratic institutions, practices, and values become deeply entrenched within a society, leading to the stable and sustainable functioning of democratic governance. It involves the strengthening of democratic norms, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and the empowerment of citizens to participate in political processes.


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