During the second National Consultation Forum between ELECAM and stakeholders in the electoral process (i.e., legalized political parties, candidates for presidential election, civil society organizations, private and public media) ELECAM introduced a Code of Conduct for Election Stakeholders in Cameroon.
According to ELECAM chairman, Fonkam Azu’u, the code of conduct is:
“a legal instrument the corpus of which should not be considered as a mere enumeration of principles for the organization of a good election but rather, and better still, as a set of rules which we have freely accepted and which we intend, first of all, to apply during the up-coming presidential elections and, later on, during other elections such as the twin legislative and council elections envisaged for 2012.”
For example, Kah Walla, presidential candidate for the Cameroon People's Party refused to sign the code of conduct. During a press conference, she explained that her party refused to sign the code because it was too vague and placed the onus of maintaining peace and good behavior on opposition candidates, while, for example, leaving out security forces who are usually the catalysts for violence during the election period. “I don’t trust ELECAM… and I don’t need a code of conduct. I carry myself very well. I declared my candidacy a year ago and I have been active on the political scene for at least four years. On the other hand, [when] I was kidnapped by security forces, ELECAM did not raise a finger.”
JeanJacques Ekindi of the Mouvement Progressiste (MP) also did not sign the document, and was particularly miffed by the clause in the code of conduct which states that “The media, candidates, political parties and observers shall refrain from the publication of provisional results of elections.” According to Ekindi, “we will publish provisional results."
The Dynamique Citoyenne, a civil society organization, simply brushed off the code of conduct, stating that it cannot take lessons of transparency and fairness from an organ that is itself not transparent.
Code of Conduct for Election Stakeholders in Cameroon
We, participants at the second Consultation Forum between ELECAM and other stakeholders of the electoral process, acting with complete freedom and responsibility, comprising:
- Ø Elections Cameroon;
- Ø Administration;
- Ø Justice;
- Ø Legalized political parties;
- Ø Candidates for elections;
- Ø Civil Society Organizations;
- Ø Private and Public Media;
- Considering that a free, fair, transparent and credible democratic election rests on strict compliance with constitutional, legal and regulatory provisions, on the commitment of actors to ensure a smooth electoral process, and to reject any actions aimed at destabilizing or blocking the process;
- Considering that this Code of Conduct falls in line with the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance of the African Union to which Cameroon is a signatory;
- Considering that divergence of points of view and programmes, as well as the stakes of an election, should be no reason to endanger peace, national unity and social cohesion;
- Considering that electoral periods are often moments of social disturbances and all sorts of manipulations and disorder;
- Considering that national cohesion and social peace rest on good democratic governance, which in turn depends on honest and transparent polls;
- Considering that strict respect of the provisions of the present Code of Conduct by all election stakeholders shall make for conditions favourable to the organization of free, fair, credible and transparent elections whose results shall be accepted by all;
- Conscious of our historic role in civic training and in laying the foundations of a democratic culture;
- Conscious of our influence on national public opinion and our responsibility in the preservation of national unity and social peace;
- Hereby adopt the present binding rules to guarantee a smooth electoral process:
Article 1: (1) The participants hereby undertake to respect the laws and regulations of the Republic of Cameroon.
(2) They promise to work for the maintenance of social peace and national unity through the acknowledgement of the diversity of options or political opinions and the rejection of violence in all its forms.
(3) They also subscribe to international human rights standards of a democratic election, notably:
Ø the holding of transparent elections;
Ø the right to stand as candidate for elections;
Ø the right to vote;
Ø universal suffrage;
Ø equality of suffrage;
Ø secret ballot;
Ø free expression of the will of voters.
Article 2: The participants acknowledge election as the sole legitimate means of conquest of power in a democracy. They agree to support the holding of free, open and transparent elections by ensuring amongst themselves, an atmosphere of confidence, tolerance and mutual respect.
Article 3: (1) The participants hereby undertake to respect the full freedom of all voters to participate without hindrance or any form of threat in all activities of the electoral process, in strict respect of the laws and regulations in force.
(2) They will take appropriate measures to encourage and facilitate the participation of women, the handicapped, as well as the underprivileged, vulnerable or marginalized social groups in political activities and electoral operations.
Article 4: (1) The participants hereby desist from using any form of violence, and undertake discourage all acts of violence and intimidation.
(2) They hereby undertake not to entertain, finance or use persons or groups of persons to threaten whoever or to commit acts of violence and harassment on candidates and followers of the opposing camps.
(3) They further undertake to exercise restraint in their speeches, writings, attitudes and behaviours throughout the electoral process. They condemn the use of offensive and inciting language aimed at encouraging violence, as well as racial, ethnic, religious and gender hatred.
Article 5: (1) The mass media shall refrain from any partial treatment of the various political actors before, during and after elections.
(2) They shall limit themselves only to the respective public political activities, debates, speeches and programmes of the candidates or of their mandated agents.
Article 6: (1) National and international observers duly accredited by competent authorities shall cover election activities.
(2) In order to carry out their activities, observers shall enjoy freedom of movement, freedom to receive and to give information as well as freedom of access to appropriate election premises and documentation.
(3) Observers shall maintain neutrality with regard to the electoral process as well as to local authorities, political parties, candidates, voters and the media.
(4) They shall be bound by principles of transparency and shall avoid any action that may give rise to conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest.
Article 7: (1) The participants promise to work towards the organization of election campaigns in an atmosphere of calm and mutual tolerance.
(2) They hereby promise to respect, and to ensure the respect of freedom of expression, movement and association all over the national territory during the campaign period, and to ensure that this is done in complete security and in strict respect of the laws of the Republic.
Article 8: Political parties agree to collaborate with each other, with ELECAM, the Administration, Justice and the various candidates in competition. They shall avoid holding their public activities of election campaign on the same date, place and time.
Article 9: (1) Each political party and each candidate hereby undertake to ask their militants and sympathizers to refrain from tearing down, disfiguring or removing the campaign posters of another party, group of parties or candidate, to hinder the distribution of campaign materials and from disturbing other parties or candidates from putting up their posters.
(2) They promise to avoid attacking or offending other political parties or candidates in their posters.
(3) They shall refrain from directly or indirectly disturbing rallies, meetings and other campaign activities of another party, group of parties or candidate.
Article 10: (1) The participants shall refrain from using positions of power, influence or privilege for election campaign or political propaganda by giving gifts and other rewards, hurling threats or by other means; they shall further abstain from using public means for party politics and as part of the election campaign.
(2) They shall respect State and private property and promise not to destroy them during rallies, meetings and other public demonstrations.
Article 11: (1) The media hereby undertake not to centre their reports, debates, interviews, and speeches of political parties and candidates on issues relating to the private life, religion, tribe, gender and social and geographical origin of candidates.
(2) The media shall refrain from any opinion poll and from publication of results of opinion polls, in conformity with provisions of the laws in force.
Article 12: (1) The participants hereby undertake to respect the full rights of voters to exercise their right to vote, without running the risk of being rough-handled or subjected to threats, retaliation or any other hindrance in the exercise of this right.
(2) They promise to preserve and to ensure the preservation of the secrecy of the ballot.
(3) They request that voters be identified by their National Identity Card or their Passport.
Article 13: The participants shall refrain from facilitating or compromising the election of a candidate by soliciting the support or the assistance of election officials, the Administration, Justice or the Forces of Law and Order (FLO).
Article 14: (1) The participants hereby undertake to refrain from causing riot, interfering in the work of ELECAM officials or from obstructing it in the course of the electoral operations and in the counting of votes.
(2) They shall refrain from hurling threats or insults and from undermining the dignity and serenity of ELECAM staff in the exercise of their functions. They shall also not attack them physically.
(3) They promise to respect the work of accredited national and international observers, on the one hand, and that of duly designated representatives of the political parties and candidates in polling stations, on the other hand.
Article 15: The participants hereby condemn electoral fraud and corruption in all their forms. They refuse to organize or to give support to any manoeuvre aimed at preventing the expression of an independent and free choice by voters.
Article 16: (1) Elements of the Forces of Law and Order (FLO) on duty on polling day shall not be deployed within the precincts of polling stations and shall not infringe on the rights of voters to free and secret ballot.
(2) They shall however provide discreet security cover and shall stand ready to restore order, if necessary, under the joint authority of the Administration and the ELECAM official territorially competent.
Article 17: The media, candidates, political parties and observers shall refrain from the publication of provisional results of elections.
Article 18: (1) The participants hereby undertake to respect the results of the polls and to use only channels for appeal provided by law, in case of contest of the results of elections.
(2) They further undertake to collaborate with all competent authorities to arrive at the truth with regard to allegations of fraud, corruption, violence and threats linked to elections.
(3) They undertake to respect final decisions regarding the polls as issued by Institutions charged with the examination of electoral litigations.
Article 19: (1) The participants hereby solemnly undertake to respect the provisions of this Code.
(2) They agree to consult Elections Cameroon regularly on all issues related to the electoral process.
Article 20: This Code of Conduct shall go into force with effect from the date of its adoption by consensus by participants at the second Consultation Forum of 20 September 2011 between Elections Cameroon and other stakeholders of the electoral process.
Article 21: This Code shall be published, as and where necessary, in English and in French.
Done in Yaounde, this 20th day of September 2011.
The Participants at the 2nd National Consultation between ELECAM and other stakeholders of the electoral process.