Tuesday 11 October 2011

Cameroon's Election Day

Happy Election Day, Cameroon! As a PCV, I'm restricted from publicly speaking or publishing my political opinions (see disclaimer on bottom of website). Thus, this post will provide a bit of background of Cameroonian politics and how Election Day works!

Paul Biya, Cameroon's current president, has been in power for the last 29 years. Presidential elections are held every 7 years and before 2004, there was a two-term limit for Presidents. After Biya was re-elected in 2004, he revised the Constitution eliminating the term limits.

Peace Corps Volunteers were put on "No Travel" during the election period as we patiently waited to see the outcome. As everything in the city closed down for voting, I wandered Ngaoundere with Abdul, my 12-year-old sidekick/neighbor to check out the election process in action.

Like in the U.S., people must register before Voting Day. The day of, each voter receives a ballot for every candidate that is running. The ballots are color-coated with the candidates' photo as the illiteracy rate is high, so voters can just look at the ballots without reading.

The ballots of the October 2011 Presidential Elections of Cameroon. Twenty-three ballots for each of the 23 candidates.

Polling place. Voters put their respective ballot in the envelope behind the curtain and then into the ballot box.

I know who you voted for!

After voters put their ballot into the envelope, they leave the polling place with the other 22 ballots to do as they wish. Thus, for the next few weeks, locals will use the ballots as scratch paper, etc.

Things are relatively peaceful, so this PCV won't be evacuated from the country anytime soon! And yes, Paul Biya won again.

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