Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace



Just Elections are Vital to Peace: the Cameroon Case

After 36 years as a ruling president, Paul Biya has been reelected as the new President of Cameroon.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
27 October 2018

After 36 years as a ruling president, Paul Biya has been reelected as the new President of Cameroon. On Monday, 22 October, it was reported that he garnered 71,28 percent of the votes, a stunning 55 percent gap separated the new President and all other candidates.

Election Results Bring Country-Wide Frustration

Oppositional candidates, claiming fraud and low turnout in the Anglophone regions, called for the election to be partially or fully cancelled. However, the constitutional council has rejected all petitions handed in causing tensions to intensify all over the country. The frustration of the Cameroonian people was apparent as protests took place in Cameroon but also in other countries, such as the United States, Germany and Canada.

Adding fuel to fire, the government has refused to allow peaceful demonstrations. Police officers have been placed on the streets in all cities of Cameroon, in order to stop any form of protests. During the last days, several opposition candidates and opinion leaders have been placed under house-arrest, preventing them from leading or support planned protests. In addition, journalists with the mission to cover protests have been arrested and the internet has been slowed down, making it difficult to use social media, such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

Volunteers from the “Cameroon women for Peaceful Elections” platform, coordinated by WILPF Cameroon have, through the Women Situation Room (WSR) call centre and election observation, witnessed and received first-hand information confirming widespread fraud and corruption. Additionally, the volunteers reported very limited access to polling stations in the two English speaking regions of the country, violating domestic and international law. A high degree of violence and intimidation have been reported on, including killings in the English speaking regions. Due to the security risk in the English speaking regions only high officials were able to vote as they were under the protection of high-level security guards. Despite this, the government claims that the voting turnout was high in these regions.

On Election Day, each polling station put together minutes which were reported to the Election Commission, ELECAM. However, incident reports received by WILPF Cameroon through the WSR call centre state that the minutes had been tampered with by the electoral body. ELECAM later published minutes that were widely different from those handed in by the polling stations. Though intended to be an independent and neutral body, ELECAM is appointed by the government, and as result it has strong liaisons with the ruling party.

Stop Undemocratic Election Processes

The platform “Cameroon women for Peaceful Elections” condemns the election process that has been undemocratic and has violated the constitution and other domestic and international regulations. This situation is jeopardising current peacebuilding efforts and is likely to plunge the country into a cycle of violence. The world needs to turn the spotlight to Cameroon and recognise the grave misconduct and abuse by the governing party. Cameroon has been in a fragile state for a long time and the need for conflict prevention measures to be established is vital. The platform “Cameroon women for Peaceful Elections” urges the international community to shine a light on the undemocratic process and encourage just elections as vital to peace.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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