Delays, extortions, and voter exclusion: Cameroon’s national biometric ID card conundrum

Published: 28/Dec/2022
Source: Biometric Update

By Ayang Macdonald

Ashu M. just clocked 20 years this November, the legal age for voting in the central African nation of Cameroon. The enthusiastic young man is looking forward to enlisting his name on the biometric voter roll in preparation for the next general elections coming up in 2025. However, this will only be possible if Ashu is able to obtain his biometric national ID card, which he applied for back when he was 18.

In Cameroon, obtaining the national identity card has become more difficult for many than the biblical camel passing through the eye of a needle. And by law, citizens cannot exercise their voting, and other civil rights, if they do not possess a valid national ID card.

Like Ashu, there are thousands of young Cameroonians willing to take part in the country’s electoral process but facing one major challenge: that of lack of a national ID card, which is an indispensable ID credential. Voter registration requires presentation of the national ID card.

Not only that. The national ID card is also required during voting as it is the document used to verify the identity of the voter. This is because Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) – the agency responsible for organizing and managing elections in the country – does not yet employ a biometric system for voter accreditation as is the case in neighboring Nigeria, and elsewhere around the continent.

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Themes: ID Documents and Passports, Voter Registration
Regions: Cameroon
Year: 2022