YAUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, who celebrated his 40th anniversary in power on Sunday, is the only leader most of the country’s people have ever known. Amidst swirling questions about the 19-year-old president, he stayed out of the spotlight.
Biya has not appeared in public since French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the Central African country in July, with orders and photos of Biya welcoming various diplomats appearing on the president’s social media. Regularly posted to media accounts.
An event was scheduled to mark the anniversary of the president’s inauguration at the city hall in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, but Biya was not expected to attend.
A few days ago, nearly 100 young people marched through the streets of Douala, the country’s largest city, carrying banners with a photo of the president and a message that included “Pol Biya: 40 Years of Stability, Freedom and Democracy.” did.
Darling Nugebo, a critic of the Biya government, claimed the government paid the marchers to show such support. He and other opposition supporters said he planned to wear black on Sunday.
“November 6th is considered a national day of mourning as Mr. Biya inherited a rich, prosperous and growing country,” said Nugebo. “And he set out to unravel all areas of life and society.”
“Corruption has taken root in this country. So has bad governance. Paul Biya is old and rarely makes public appearances, and this is happening against the backdrop of a succession struggle.” he added.
Biya is Africa’s second-longest-serving leader. The president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has been in power since 1979.
Biya is Cameroon’s prime minister and took office in 1982 after his predecessor, Cameroon’s first president after independence from France, resigned for health reasons.
Most of the appointments Biya made in the years that followed were members of his own Southern Betty ethnic group, who soon came to dominate senior ministerial positions and the prime minister’s office.
He survived the 1984 coup attempt. When multi-party elections were first held in 1992, Biya beat his opposition rivals by just four percentage points.
Since then, Mr Biya’s party has used everything from fraud to redistricting to extend his victory and the ruling party’s parliamentary majority, according to political analysts. Human rights groups have accused him of brazen strongman tactics, including torturing and intimidating dissidents.
Biya has faced a range of challenges in recent years, from separatist movements in Cameroon’s English-speaking world to threats in the north from Islamic extremists affiliated with the Nigeria-based Boko Haram group.
Critics have pointed to the role corruption has played in Biya’s government’s entrenchment, with the booty allegedly being passed on to his allies in government, security forces and the president’s family.
Political analyst Aristide Mono said the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Biya’s regime was “part of a sanctification tradition.”
“The people in charge of these various mobilizations are very much driven by the logic of customerism, as each one tries to show loyalty and show a lot of loyalty and loyalty,” Mono said.
Showing loyalty became especially important as Biya grew older. The president’s son, Frank Biya, became more prominent on his father’s side. There is also a view that he is positioned as a successor candidate.
There are concerns that the end of a long presidential term could lead to turmoil in a country home to more than 200 different ethnic groups.
“Biya has not taken the time to prepare a successor who can fully inherit his power,” Mono said.
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https://wgnradio.com/news/international/ap-cameroonian-president-paul-biya-marks-40-years-in-power/ Cameroon’s President Paul Biya marks 40 years in office. WGN Radio 720