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General News of Thursday, 30 August 2012

Source: Cameroon Tribune

A Civic Responsibility


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The current exercise to ease the process of the biometric registration of voters for coming elections could suffer a serious setback if some unusual practices are not immediately addressed.

The various political actors have settled for this form of registration and administration of the electoral process.

But the practice on the field leaves much to be desired. Just last week, officials of ELECAM, the elections governing body, announced a major shift in the move to have acceptable elections with the arrival of kits that would enable the process go hitch-free. But that alone is not important because for the process to be carried out as all the actors in the electoral process would want it to be, prospective voters must possess National Identity Cards.

Here is where an unexpected problem has suddenly surged. Many citizens are still to produce this essential document. Before the 2011 presidential election, several initiatives were taken to ensure that voter participation was high. To the extent that special measures were taken to ensure that costs in the procurement of identity cards were shelved. Citizens could then obtain them virtually for free. What then was responsible for this apparent apathy towards obtaining these cards when nothing was being charged?

Years of foiled elections - which in the first place led to these adjustments in the electoral process with the introduction of ELECAM - have understandably let many citizens into a loss of interest. But with the introduction of a neutral elections governing body, things seem to have been properly addressed, making way for hitch-free polls.

Citizens have erroneously been led into believing that the possession of a National Identity Card is linked to elections! No! Rather, the possession of such a document is an act of good citizenship which should be encouraged at all times.

An identity card gives the citizen certain rights which go beyond election time. It is the consubstantial link between the citizen and their nationality. To take a very ordinary situation; how does one identify a citizen in the case of an accident involving a victim who cannot express his or herself? It is the identity card that helps investigators out.

Therefore, the identity card is useful well beyond the immediate demands of the electoral process. It is an act of good citizenship to possess one's identification card. In fact, it is a civic responsibility to have one's identity card at every moment.

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