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19/07/2019 - 12:12
The Diaspora has its vote

10 août 2011

The vote of the diaspora has been confirmed following the signing of an enabling decree Monday by the Head of State Paul Biya.

 The decree that calls for the full implementation of the law authorising Cameroonians settled or residing abroad to take part in presidential elections and referendums comes after a set of instruments put in place to facilitate the registration process for Cameroonians living abroad. It was in July during an extra ordinary session of the national assembly that the bill on the rights of Cameroonians residing abroad to take part in presidential elections was tabled. Until now, Cameroonians living abroad were not allowed to vote. They had to travel back to the country to exercise this right. After the bill was tabled, it only took days for the Head of State to promulgate it in to law. The text of application was signed Monday, making it possible for the law to be fully implemented. The decree which was highly awaited has cleared doubts about the operation and defined the practical modalities. It is thus in this light that the different institutions in charge of implementing the law, notably Elecam and the Ministry of External Relations, have doubled efforts to ensure that things are put in place before the electorate is convened.

Elecam has deployed 12 delegations to different parts of the world, with their main objective being that of kick starting voter registration in the various embassies, consulates and high commissions. Elecam now has the powers to create registration centres in places where there are no embassies or consulates. The ministry of External Relations for its part is ensuring that Cameroonians abroad acquire consular cards, without which they will not be allowed to vote.  Consular and embassy staff has been instructed to issue the cards within the shortest time possible, with a minimal fee of between cfa 5000 and cfa 10000 FRS.

Cameroonians living abroad have been clamouring for the right to vote and now it is a reality. Despite the pessimism expressed by some Cameroonians living abroad on this operation that comes at the eve of the presidential election, others hold that it is a right move in the right direction and a sign for many other things to come.

 It was during an official visit in France in July 2009 that President Paul Biya, committed to legislate for the voting rights of Cameroonian citizens living abroad as well as the recognition of dual citizenship. Although there are no updated official figures, in 2010 the Minister of External Relations had estimated the number of Cameroonians living abroad at about four million.

Claudette chin

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