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DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND ELECTORAL PROCESSES IN CAMEROON

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DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND ELECTORAL PROCESSES IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Chrda (2018) asserts that Africans are pursuing democracy as a means of ensuring their existence, firmly convinced that there are no viable alternatives to this pursuit. They see this endeavour as having few risks and substantial potential benefits. The present movement for democracy and good governance is rapidly spreading throughout Africa, like to a rampant wildfire. In the late 20th century, some African nations shifted from autocratic to democratic systems of government, following a worldwide trend known as the "third wave of democratisation in world history" (Chrda, 2018). According to Gwaibi (2016), it has been suggested that the third wave in Africa was initiated by the events of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the disintegration of single-party governments in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It is considered that this event established the standards for African pro-democracy activists who were already engaged in organising against human rights violations and political oppression. The severe economic stagnation and decline in most African nations, together with the resulting poverty and misery, acted as the internal driving force for political unrest and rebellion against dictatorship (Gwaibi, 2016). The significant result of this pivotal moment in history, commonly referred to as "Africa's second independence or Africa's second liberation," was the discrediting of over three decades of single-party political systems experimentation. Instead, there was a shift towards more democratic forms of governance that emphasise multiparty politics and the safeguarding of human rights (Gwaibi, 2018). 

Democratic governance and election procedures are essential elements of a country's political framework, providing the basis for transparency, responsibility, and public involvement in decision-making. Cameroon, a multifarious country located in Central Africa, with a historical background characterised by colonial domination, fights for independence, and political developments after gaining independence. This makes it an interesting subject for examining democratic government and election procedures. Cameroon achieved independence from French and British colonial domination in the early 1960s, and thereafter embraced a multiparty democratic framework (Kombi, 2015). Nevertheless, the process of developing strong democratic administration has been hindered by several obstacles, including as political instability, authoritarian inclinations, ethnic rifts, and accusations of election improprieties. The progression of democratic government in Cameroon may be discerned by observing several phases, characterised by notable political occurrences and shifts. Since gaining independence, the nation has seen political changes, first with President Ahmadou Ahidjo and then transitioning to a multiparty democracy under President Paul Biya in the late 20th century (Shin, 2017). Cameroon has been criticism for the consolidation of power inside the governing party and the restricted opportunities for alternative voices, despite the implementation of multiparty politics.

The electoral procedures in Cameroon have often been tainted by accusations of irregularities, voter coercion, and a dearth of openness. Although elections are conducted on a regular basis, there are ongoing issues over their impartiality and reliability. The overwhelming control exerted by the governing party, together with the implementation of only minor changes to the election process, has prompted concerns about the credibility of the electoral system and its capacity to accurately represent the desires of the populace.

Furthermore, the varied ethnic and regional dynamics in Cameroon have a substantial influence on the formation of political loyalties and the results of elections in the country. The country's heterogeneous ethnic makeup, with more than 200 distinct ethnic groups, has significant ramifications for the political participation and integration of marginalised people. Comprehending the interaction of ethnicity, politics, and governance is essential for fostering social cohesion and national harmony (Verjee & Mutah, 2018). 

Moreover, the organisation of elections in Cameroon has been tainted by accusations of irregularities, voter coercion, and manipulation(Verjee & Mutah, 2018). Reports from both local and foreign observers have identified deficiencies in the election process, such as partial media representation, limitations on political liberties, and inadequate measures to ensure openness and accountability. Therefore, the researcher sought to examine democratic governance and electoral processes in Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The effectiveness of democratic government and electoral procedures in Cameroon is being closely examined owing to ongoing difficulties and disputes related to elections. Although there have been attempts to promote democracy, the election system is nevertheless plagued by inconsistencies, a lack of openness, and accusations of fraud. This situation raises doubts about the integrity and legitimacy of elected officials. Furthermore, the democratic deficit in the nation is worsened by problems such as voter suppression, restricted political engagement, and the overwhelming influence of incumbent parties (Wenzell, 2019).

The issue at hand pertains to the deficiencies and limitations within Cameroon's election system, which impede the achievement of authentic democratic administration. Significant concerns arise from the absence of impartial supervision of elections, the control exerted by administrative authorities on electoral institutions, and the dearth of measures to guarantee equitable competition and inclusiveness in the electoral process. These problems not only erode individuals' trust in the election system but also create substantial obstacles to the formation of a genuinely representative and responsible administration (Wenzell, 2019).

Moreover, the consequences of faulty election procedures reach beyond the immediate issues of legitimacy and administration. It sustains political instability, exacerbates social discontent, and hinders socio-economic growth, so weakening the overall stability and advancement of the country (Wenzell, 2019). Given these issues, it is crucial to thoroughly analyse the dynamics of democratic governance and election processes in Cameroon, identify systemic deficiencies, and suggest practical changes to promote a political atmosphere that is more inclusive, transparent, and participatory. Hence, the study examine democratic governance and electoral processes in Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to examine democratic governance and electoral processes in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To assess the effectiveness of democratic governance in Cameroon.

To analyze the role of electoral bodies in ensuring free and fair elections in Cameroon.

To identify challenges of enhancing democratic governance and electoral processes in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is  the effectiveness of democratic governance in Cameroon?

What are the role of electoral bodies in ensuring free and fair elections in Cameroon?

What are the  challenges of enhancing democratic governance and electoral processes in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

Policy makers: Insights gained from research on democratic governance and electoral processes can inform policymakers and stakeholders about necessary reforms to strengthen democratic institutions, improve electoral integrity, and enhance governance effectiveness in Cameroon.

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

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on democratic governance and electoral processes in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will assess the effectiveness of democratic governance in Cameroon, analyze the role of electoral bodies in ensuring free and fair elections in Cameroon and identify challenges of enhancing democratic governance and electoral processes 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

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

Electoral process: means voter registration, candidate registration, electoral campaign, mass media accessibility, voting, vote counting. 


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