Thanks to a law passed in 2011, millions of Cameroonians living abroad are licensed to exercise their civic duty on Sunday, October 7 as the country goes to the polls to decide its leader for the next seven years. Incumbent Paul Biya, seeking a seventh term in office, faces eight opposition candidates amidst nationwide unrest, but the 85-year-old authoritarian remains the perennial favourite to win.
The Cameroon elections and the upcoming general elections in neighbouring Nigeria have put the subject of external voting in Africa on the radar. At present, 33 of Africa’s 55 countries allow their citizens to vote from abroad.
The latest data from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance shows that of the 33 countries, most require voting in person with only eight permitting voting through a personal proxy. One country, Zimbabwe, accepts votes by post, but electronic means of voting such as fax and e-voting are not in use by any African country.
While countries like Cameroon, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya allow external voting for presidential, legislative and/or referendum polls, Nigeria is a notable exception. The West African nation has no provision for its large foreign-based population to vote away from home.
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