Post-electoral Period: Freedom of Expression Booms

As at now, nobody is behind the bars for ideas expressed through the traditional media, social networks, internet and other means of passing across information on the conduct of the October 7, 2018 presidential election, postelection petitions and the proclamation of results. This is one of the rare moments in Cameroon’s political history in which freedom of expression is at its peak.

Just on the morrow of the election, one of the candidates, Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) though in violation of the provisions of the Electoral Code with regard to the proclamation of the election results, freely used the different media outlets to self-proclaim himself winner.

His supporters used the print, audiovisual, online and social media networks to defend their claims unperturbed. The reactions condemning Kamto’s self-proclamation of election victory and calls for his supporters to de fend their victory at all costs still continue to flood Cameroon’s media organs. The condemnation and calls for the preservation of peace, security, stability of the country and respect of the electoral laws in force in matters of elections feature prominently in public, private, online and social media outlets.

From October 16-19, 2018 when the Constitutional Council ruled on and rejected all the 18 postelectoral petitions, debates in media organs focused on the nature of the petitions, nature of debates as the Council gave ample time for submissions by the various parties. The print media have diverse headlines and analysis some in favour of the Constitutional Council and others in favour of the arguments for the partial or total cancellation of the election put forward by Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement and Joshua Nambangi Osih of the Social Democratic Front (SDF).

A review of headlines in some newspapers after the Constitutional Council on October 22, 2018 proclaimed incumbent President Paul Biya winner of the election are telling of the freedom of expression. Mutations daily French Language newspaper headlines, “ Victoire de Paul Biya: vue de Paris, Washington et Londre” (Paul Biya’s Victory: Regard of Paris, Washington and London).

Le Jour daily newspaper has the headline, “Maurice Kamto: moi ou le chaos” (mea ning Maurice Kamto: I or Chaos). After the proclamation of the results, Maurice Kamto in a video rejected the results. He had freely in different media outlets published his own figures claiming victory.

Candidates in the election, their representatives, supporters now increasingly participate in different audiovisual media debates in which they talk about the election results, the perspectives and defend their points of view.

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