5 Nov 2008
U.S. Embassy Organizes vote simulation
I was one of those that was invited by the United States’ Embassy “for a celebration of democracy at U.S Elections Night” at the Embassy branch officer’s residence in Douala on the 4th of November. According to the invitation, the night’s program will be “featuring a vote simulation by guests, live elections reports and comments from U.S TV stations, commentary by American diplomats, and a lot more”
I certainly knew that the most difficult assignment for the US embassy was to assemble a group of people that could remotely reflect the partisan orientations of voters in America. More than a hundred people were present for the all night occasion and 106 of the invitees participated in the simulation voting exercise. An Independent electoral commission was constituted amongst whose members included the president of the Cameroon Bar Council, two Douala-based veteran politicians (Jean Jacques Ekindi & Anicet Ekani) and a civil servant. Votes were counted shortly after midnight Cameroon time.
Senator John McCain who usually addresses his supporters as “my friends” certainly had few friends amongst the assembled Cameroonian residents on that night. McCain received 4 Votes, Obama 101 and one ballot was nullified. The returning officer declared Barack Obama the winner shortly before the first results started coming out of the US.
We listened to speeches from different members of the US diplomatic corps that were present that night. Most of what was said was in relation to the ongoing US elections and the electoral process. The Deputy Chief of mission for the US Embassy in Yaounde, Stephen Fox thanked all the guests for making it to the occasion. He said that the US has “a complicated electoral system” in apparent reference to the electoral-college issue that some guests were not familiar with it. “It is a system that works”. Fox concluded his speech by saying; “We invite you to celebrate this historic election”.
We were happy to be amongst the first people that started celebrating not only this election that is truly historic, but the equally historic victory of Barack Obama (that was confirmed some four hours later).
Like millions all over Africa, many people in Cameroon spent a sleepless night because of this election. Nobody on this continent seems to be complaining from that unprecedented and collective sleepless exercise.
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Njei Moses Timah