n African Human Rights Law Journal - Election management bodies in Africa : Cameroon's 'National Elections Observatory' in perspective

Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



This article examines in detail the work of the Cameroonian National Elections Observatory (NEO) during the 1990s, at a time when democratic transition through multiparty elections took place around Africa. It is contended that regardless of such initiatives, many countries now show signs of returning to de facto one-party systems. Indicative of this regression has been the way elections have been managed and manipulated by the ruling party. It is suggested that the integrity of the election management process is a crucial factor in the facilitation of functional democratic elections. Considering that election management bodies (EMBs) are considered vital for ensuring a level playing field between all political actors to guarantee free and fair elections, it is emphasised that EMBs must be independent and accountable, with sufficient resources to sustain their effective operations. The article concludes that even though some of the EMBs set up in African countries have been successful, many others lack in autonomy, power and capacity. EMBs are often not sufficiently independent, have merely served as instruments for perpetuating rituals of symbolic elections and disguise signs of authoritarian revival. The NEO is analysed and compared with other EMBs in Africa.

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