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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07YAOUNDE418
2007-04-02 15:29:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Yaounde
Cable title:  

CAMEROON: JULY ELECTIONS APPROACH, UNCERTAINLY

Tags:   PGOV  PINR  CM 
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VZCZCXRO1970
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHYD #0418/01 0921529
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021529Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7532
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLC/AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE 1506
RUEHMA/AMEMBASSY MALABO 0200
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA 1465
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 YAOUNDE 000418 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA ACTION OFFICERS
EUCOM FOR J5-A AFRICA DIVISION AND POLAD YATES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR CM
SUBJECT: CAMEROON: JULY ELECTIONS APPROACH, UNCERTAINLY

REF: A. 06 YAOUNDE 1164


B. 06 YAOUNDE 1422

C. 06 YAOUNDE 1142

YAOUNDE 00000418 001.2 OF 002


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 YAOUNDE 000418

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA ACTION OFFICERS
EUCOM FOR J5-A AFRICA DIVISION AND POLAD YATES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR CM
SUBJECT: CAMEROON: JULY ELECTIONS APPROACH, UNCERTAINLY

REF: A. 06 YAOUNDE 1164


B. 06 YAOUNDE 1422

C. 06 YAOUNDE 1142

YAOUNDE 00000418 001.2 OF 002



1. (U) Legislative and municipal elections in Cameroon most
likely will be held July 22. Under that scenario, voter
registration, in accordance with the law, would end on April
23, when President Biya would call the elections. Some here
hope to register some 8 million voters, a feat that would
require adding close to a million voters a week to the
registers before they close. Significant voter apathy stands
in the way of what is already a formidable logistical
challenge. This message describes the latest administrative
and political developments related to the upcoming elections.


2. (U) VOTER MOBILIZATION. As part of our cooperative effort
to urge Cameroonians to register to vote, Ambassador
Marquardt -- along with his Dutch counterpart and the acting
UN Resident Representative -- distributed checks March 30 to
nine local NGOs that will direct voter registration
activities in Cameroon,s ten provinces. The groups were
supplied with UNDP-produced pamphlets and posters explaining
the registration and voting procedures. Providing NGOs with
printed material not only saved money (many groups wanted to
produce their own handouts) but also helps ensure a
consistent message on voting and registration procedures.
Canada handed out checks the previous week, for much the same
purpose.


3. (SBU) VOTER APATHY STILL FAR REACHING. In addition to the
many ordinary Cameroonians who never bothered to register to
vote (or who gave up in frustration after trying), many
others who "ought" to, have not either. Western embassies
(including our own), international NGOs and UN bodies, and
even the National Election Observatory count low numbers of
registered voters among their Cameroonian employees.
Prominent Cameroonians are equally apathetic. Akere Muna,
well known attorney and Transparency International Vice
President, brother of both a political party leader and a
member of government, not to mention the son of a former Vice

President and Prime Minister of Cameroon, told us March 31
that he is not registered to vote. Many see it as simply too
time-consuming and not likely to make any difference.


4. (U) IF YOU ARE OLD ENOUGH TO REACH THE LEVER: Cameroon,s
Interior Ministry, charged with running the legislative and
municipal elections slated for July 2007, has made available
on the internet a province-by-province list of registered
voters; these are previous voters who have been put onto
computerized list. The effort, with technical support from
UNDP, has already succeeded in bringing unprecedented
transparency to the deficiencies in Cameroon,s electoral
rolls. An embassy search of the Central Province, for
example, found 22 voters with dates of birth in 1992, far too
young to vote in Cameroon. (The minimum age is 20 but the
youngest registered voter has a date of birth of 2005.) On
the flipside, the Central Province also boasts 34 registered
voters born in 1900 and 115 in 1901! In terms of voter
registration, the Government faces a double challenge with
less than four months until the elections: how to convince
the jaded Cameroonian population that it is worth the time
and trouble to register, and that the new computerized system
will prevent people from exploiting these problematic entries.


5. (SBU) SDF MUNA FACTION -- OUT WITH A WHIMPER. After
nearly a year of Social Democratic Front (SDF) in-fighting,
the so-called Muna faction (led by prominent attorney Bernard
"Ben" Muna, another of Akere Muna's brothers, Ref C) has
broken from the party to join others in an opposition
alliance. Muna dissolved his faction of the SDF, Cameroon's
leading opposition party, to form the Alliance of Progressive
Forces (French acronym: AFP), a group of small opposition
parties. (Reftels provided details on the SDF rift.) While
the ADF is unlikely to be much of a force in the upcoming
elections, the willingness of opposition parties to unite is
promising, insofar as the opposition's goal of chellenging
the ruling party is concerned. As we have reported for some
time, disarry among the oppostion makes it unnecessary for
the ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) to
steal the election -- the splintered opposition is more
likely to hand it victory.


6. (SBU) MINISTER MARAFA HIMSELF UNEASY. Ambassador called
on April 2 on Interior Minister Marafa, whose Ministry

YAOUNDE 00000418 002.2 OF 002


(MINADT) is charged with organizing the elections. The
Ambassador briefed him on embassy support for registration
and cast his own recent public diplomacy efforts -- some of
which have been very critical of administration bungling and
delay -- in the light of trying to overcome voter apathy by
raising interest and awareness before registration closes.
Marafa said he appreciated the support and agreed that
credibility and success in 2007 is critical to successful
presidential elections slated for 2011. He also expressed
some new frustrations. He said that the Presidency needs to
issue a decree spelling out the circumscriptions and other
parameters for the new municipal councils, following legal
changes in 2004 that, among other things, will abolish the
urban councils in major cities like Garoua and Bamenda. That
needs to happen as soon as possible, so candidates will know
what they can run for, and not on the very eve of the calling
of the elections; otherwise, he would expect a public outcry.
The Presidency has had this under review since February, he
said. Marafa said he expects elections to be called for July
22, though under the law they could take place one week
later; that, however, would leave no margin for error and
should be avoided, he said. He also mentioned the
possibility of a one-month postponement to allow for beter
preparations, then quickly discounted it. Marafa said he
hopes to register one million more voters than the 4.6
million already on the register from 2004 -- a modest
ambition that falls far short of what many are describing as
a prerequisite to success on election day. Marafa lamented
that Cameroonians are more interested in the upcoming French
elections than in their own, and suggested that the Nigerian
elections are what should really matter in Cameroon.
MARQUARDT