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Cameroon: Biya Tipped to Win After Temporary Results Are Leaked

This post is part of our special coverage Cameroon Elections 2011

A week after the October 9, 2011, presidential election in Cameroon, the National Commission of General Census has just finished analysing minutes of the 24,000 polling stations disseminated in Cameroon and abroad, and established a temporary count of the votes.

Weekly newspaper Le Messager published a leak of these temporary results in an article; the latter was republished on camer.be [fr]. Final results should be announced by the Supreme Court [fr] on October 24, 2011.

The possible re-election of Paul Biya

The temporary figures, as counted by the National Commission of General Census grant the outgoing President Paul Biya, who was running for re-election, 77% of the votes. Following is his historical opponent, Ni John Fru Ndi with around 10% environ and then Garga Haman Adji who gathered 3.21% of the vote.

Temporary results as transmitted to the Supreme Court. From www.camer.be

Temporary results as transmitted to the Supreme Court. From www.camer.be

A Cameroonian netizen commented on camer.be post [fr]:

le messager ne respecte pas la loi, on a interdit de publier les tendances

Le Messager does not respect the law, it has been forbidden to publish temporary results

Radio France Internationale (RFI) [fr] explains:

A ce stade, aucun résultat provisoire n’est publié. Cette prérogative a été retirée à Elecam par l’Assemblée en mai dernier, au profit du seul Conseil constitutionnel.

At this stage, no temporary result is published. This prerogative was taken from Elecam [Cameroonian Electoral Commission] by the National Assembly in May 2011, to the benefit of the Constitutional Council.

Beyond the possible breach of the law by the Cameroonian newspaper, some netizens seemed to expect such results and assume that the opposition is to blame. 18OO°-CELSIUS [fr] from Germany:

18 individus réunissent en tout et pour tout 5,01% ! quelle moquerie! rembourser nos dizaines de millions que vous avez reçus pour la pseudo campagne! on ne vous connait pas! toute l'opposition réunie n'arrive mm pas à franchir le cap de 25% de suffrages, quelle honte!

18 individuals gather in total 5.01% ! What a joke! Give us back our dozen millions that you received for the so-called campaign! We don't know you! The whole opposition together doesn't even reach 25% of the ballots, what a shame!

ALEXANDER_LEGRAND [fr] continues:

L'homme lion est très fort, pas les histoires que Gbagbo avait voulu gagner avec 51% . Quelque soient les contestations il sera au dessus de 50%. 7 longues années de misère nous attendent encore, à moins qu'il casse sa pipe avant.

The lion man [Paul Biya] is really strong, not like Gbagbo who wanted to win with 51%. No matter the protests he will have more than 50% of the votes. 7 long years of destitution are yet to come, unless he kicks the bucket [dies] before.

Netizen The Economist comments from Sweden:

The problem in cameroon is not the opposition. Democracy permits whosoever (including you and me) to become president as long as he can receive the trust of the people. forcing opposition parties to unite with others is an abuse to democracy. the truth is elsewhere and is about the electoral system in place.

Adding:

The drawing line should be the introduction of a second round election that will force the minor parties to rally with the major ones. Lets only ask for a credible electoral sysytem and stop stone throwing for nothing!

Early results as a test of reactions?

These results seemed surprising to some netizens. In fact, according to the Google trends tool, Edith Kahbang Walla was among the top three most researched candidates on the Google search engine. No opinion poll was given during the presidential vote, and due to the low Internet penetration rate in Cameroon, this estimation should be tempered, as it might mainly concern search by the diaspora community.

Netizen AmaraSt comments on social network Twitter:

0.71% for #KahWalla really surprising… Maybe she did focus too much on #diaspora and not enough on those in #Cameroon

To this Dibussi, Cameroonian writer and jouranlist based in Chicago, replies:

I think these results are a trial balloon by regime to see how people will react and to prepare public for Supreme Court results

The assumption that the incumbent power might have orchestrated the leaking of these results is shared by other journalists: Edouard Tamba, a journalist based in capital Yaoundé, says that “everything is possible with the Cameroonian Press”. Another anonymous Cameroonian journalist adds:

C’est cette presse qui est allée toucher de l’argent au Ministère de la Communication et au Cabinet civil de la présidence de la République pour la “couverture” de l’élection

It is the same Cameroonian press which got money from the Ministry of Communication and the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic for the “coverage” of this election.

This statement is confirmed by Cameroonian journalist Christophe Bobiokono on his blog in a post entitled “Controle of medias: the Renewal (reference to the political program of the candidate Paul Biya during the electoral campaign) covers the Press with banknotes in order to buy peace“.

The fear of a post electoral crisis

On her Facebook Page, Edith Kahbang Walla, also known as Kah Walla announced:

Yesterday October 15th, 6 leaders of the Cameroonian opposition (Kah Walla, John Fru Ndi, Adamou Ndam Njoya, Ben Muna, Jean de Dieu Momo, Albert Dzongang) met and developed a common position and plan of action with regard to the electoral process carried out on October 9, 2011. Details will be communicated in a press conference on Monday, October 17th at 11:00 a.m. at the UDC headquarters in Yaounde.

They signed the Declaration of Yaoundé [fr] in which the coalition denounces irregularities of the ballot, and therefore demands the cancellation of the election of October 9, 2011, in accordance with Article 99 of Law number 92/010 of September 17, 1992 [fr], and the organisation of new elections within six months.

According to a Voice of America article, Fred Mitchell, who led the Commonwealth observer mission to Cameroon expressed satisfaction with the elections:

We observed the fact that the election was conducted peacefully,” said Mitchell, “that people felt no form of coercion to come out to vote, and although there were some administrative and logistical problems, we believe that there was a valued first effort to establish ELECAM as an independent acting body for elections. I think that is something that your country ought to be proud of.

At the French National Assembly, Alain Juppé, when questionned [fr] by an opposition deputy on the constant backing by France of African dictators, stated that:

Ce que je peux vous dire, c’est que, selon l’Organisation internationale de la francophonie et le Commonwealth qui ont suivi le déroulement de ces élections, on peut considérer aujourd’hui qu’elles ont eu lieu dans des conditions acceptables.

What I can tell you is that, according to the International Organisation of Francophony and the Commonwealth, which both followed the electoral process, we can consider today that the elections happened in acceptable conditions.

Nevertheless Panafrican magazine Jeune Afrique reported [fr] the slaughter of Virginie Takoguem, an alleged SDF partisan, killed on the day of the election, incircumstances which until today remain uncertain [fr].

Moreover, pictures of the counting of the votes in certain polling stations of the country circulated on the web. Africa Through a Lens blog posted some of them:

An electoral official checks an election result sheet using a lantern after the Presidential election in Yaounde, Cameroon, Sunday, October 9. 2011 - www.africathroughalens.com

An electoral official checks an election result sheet using a lantern after the Presidential election in Yaounde, Cameroon, Sunday, October 9. 2011 – www.africathroughalens.com

The daily newspaper Le Jour [fr] also reported that one of the 22 opposition candidates, Jean-Jacques Ekindi, denounced irregularities on his Facebook page. In the following video posted in Youtube by user JeanMarieEssono, the allegedly indelibile voting ink has disappeared from the thumbs of two citizens who have just voted:

Journalist Edouard Tamba [fr], referring to the temporary results recently leaked, explains:

Pour tout observateur de la scène politique au Cameroun, il n’y a pas de surprise réelle dans ces “résultats”. Les choses étaient mal parties avec: Elecam et ses responsables proches du pouvoir en place, un exécutif hyper-puissant et maître absolu du calendrier, une opposition qui excelle dans l’amateurisme et s’agite à la dernière minute. Où je vis à Yaoundé, tous ceux qui sont revenus des bureaux de vote n’avaient plus d’encre aux pouces. Certains n’ont pas eu leurs cartes. Et d’autres ont eu plusieurs cartes dans la même ville ou dans plusieurs ville. Le résultat ne peut être qu’en faveur de celui qui organise et se préparait depuis des années.

For every observer of the Cameroonian political scene, there is no real surprise in these “results”. Things had begun the wrong way with Elecam and its officials who are close to the incumbent power, an hyper-powerful Executive power and absolute master of the calendar, an opposition which excels in amateurishness and boils at the last minute. Where I live in Yaoundé, all those who came back from polling stations did not have any ink on their thumb anymore. Other did not get their Voter card. And some others got several cards in the same of in different cities. The result can only be in favor of the one who organised and who prepared himslef years before.

Radio France Internationale [fr] reports a statement by John Fru Ndi, leader of the Social Democratic Front, and historical opponent of Paul Biya:

Dans le cas ou le Conseil constitutionnel refuse d’annuler cette mascarade électorale et persiste à déclarer les résultats, nous appelons par la présente le peuple à venir massivement manifester en faveur de leur droit de participer à des élections libres et transparentes

In case the Constitutional Council refuses to cancel this electoral masquerade, and persists in declaring the results, we call the people to massively demonstrate in favor of their right to take part in free and fair elections

Serge Alain Ka’abessine wonders [fr] on opposition news site Germinal:

S’achemine-t-on vers une crise postélectorale ? Tout laisse à penser, si on tient compte de la détermination affichée par les signataires de la Déclaration de Yaoundé (…).

Are we heading to a postelectoral crisis? Everything leads us to assume so, if we take into account the determination shown by signatories of the Declaration of Yaoundé

This position is not shared by Agenor Peter on the Largest Cameroonian Group on Facebook [fr]:

Ils sont bien nombreux les charlatants, les apprentis sorciers, les marabouts qui ce disent opposant. Ils sont derniers partout même dans leurs decisions, alors ils doivent assumer les conséquences; pas question de se mobiliser pour ces bons à rien de l'opposition qui ne comprennent rien à rien de la politique.

They are many those conmen, sorcerer's apprentices, marabouts, who call themselves opponents. They are the last, even in their decisions, thus they must bear the consequences; it is out of the question that we mobilise for those good for nothings who don't give anything to politics.

This post is part of our special coverage Cameroon Elections 2011

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