Samedi, Novembre 17, 2018

Promoting peaceful electoral processes: Community Radio broadcasters in Cameroon examine role in increasingly volatile contexts

Promoting peaceful electoral processes: Community Radio broadcasters in Cameroon examine role in increasingly volatile contexts

Mbalmayo, 28 July 2018

While community radios are apolitical in nature, electoral periods constitute very sensitive periods for these unique media outlets. Many are not only open to manipulation, but run numerous risks because of the political affiliations of their promoters or community leaders.

Mbalmayo, 28 July 2018 – Over 30 representatives of community radios from across the country gathered in Mbalmayo from 26 to 28 July 2018 for a capacity building workshop organized by the United Nations System in Cameroon. The workshop was the fourth in a series of trainings for media actors across the country. The three days’ workshop was unique in content and discussions as it focused mainly on experience sharing. The diverse experiences of participants enabled facilitators to provide the required guidance on several aspects including the challenging role and responsibility of community radios to educate and sensitize community members on their civil and political rights in a context where they are considered as apolitical and strictly development oriented. Emphasis was laid on the importance of mastering the electoral law and the law on social communication, guidelines on the role of community radios and best practices to avoid security risks. Representatives of the National Communications Council (NCC) informed participants on the “dos” and “don’ts” for community radios during electoral periods. According to Alain Desiré Mbezele, Community radio broadcasters are submitted to the same rules as all other journalists during electoral periods but must take necessary safeguards against manipulation by political actors which can lead to impartial treatment of information.

CDC’s human rights awareness drive: A risk in the right direction?

The UN Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa represented by its Communication and Advocacy Associate Fonyuy Kiven Timothy Franklin stressed on the role of community radio broadcasters to promote the political participation of generally marginalized groups such as women, persons living with disability and Indigenous peoples. He insisted that mastery of the electoral code will enable them prepare well informed education and sensitization programmes to boost participation of these groups. He also cautioned participants to avoid actions that could constitute security risks, stressing that they remained the main guarantors of their own security during complex coverage.

It should be recalled that the United Nations System in Cameroon has since 26 June 2018 engaged in a series of training workshops for media actors on their role in promoting peaceful electoral processes as the country looks forward to presidential elections on 7 October 2018.Sessions on ethical and deontological principles, promotion of gender and non-sexist communication in electoral periods and the role of regulatory agencies also featured during the training.