President Paul Biya, the Cameroonian president, was absolutely unaware of his surroundings at the recent US-Africa Leaders Summit 2022, in Washington D.C.
The 89-year-old, one of the world’s oldest leaders, recently celebrated 40 years as head of state. He assumed office in 1982.
Under Biya’s iron rule, Cameroon had a protracted period of political stability. This, however, was ultimately undermined by the outbreak of an anglophone uprising in the south-west and north-west, as well as the entry of radical Islamists from Nigeria. Persistent domestic pressure on Biya to allow a transition has also existed.
President Paul Biya has been virtually invisible. This has had devastating consequences for the country, says Mimi Mefo Takambou.
“One of the biggest items on my bucket list is to see President Paul Biya in the flesh. After all, he’s ruled Cameroon — the country of my birth — for 38 years. And for 10 of those years, I’ve been working as a news reporter.”
Biya reportedly remains out of sight even when he’s in Cameroon. He spurns the Etoudi Unity palace, his official residence in the capital, Yaounde, preferring to spend months at a time as a recluse at his private residence in Mvomeka’a, the village of his birth.
During his 2019 address at the Paris Peace Summit, Biya said he had brought “some few words” to the occasion. This accurately summarizes Biya’s seven responsibilities as president, as he rarely speaks out on serious national concerns.
Biya withdrew from public view for two months after Cameroon was struck by the coronavirus outbreak earlier in the year. In May 2020, he delivered a televised speech to the country.
More recently, it took the aging president over 48 hours to tweet his condemnation of the deadly Kumba school shooting in October. Biya didn’t say anything when people were killed in February 2020 in the village of Ngarbuh, which is in Cameroon’s troubled Northwest region.
Biya has proved incapable of ending the bloody Anglophone conflict in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions, which is tearing Cameroon apart. The violence has claimed thousands of lives, and has displaced over 1 million people. Even worse, Biya has avoided taking responsibility for government failures.
Human rights groups have widely condemned Cameroon’s military for extrajudicial killings in the Anglophone regions. Yet Biya, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, has claimed that soldiers acted on their own.
Between the mayhem caused by Boko Haram in the northern regions, the dilapidation of state institutions in the east and south of the country and the conflict in the Anglophone regions, Cameroon’s economy has been left in ruins.
Biya enthusiasts and his party supporters would like the rest of the people of Cameroon to believe that he is a demi-god. Or perhaps it is more that Biya’s inner circle has adopted practices of praise-singing and worshiping the president to remain in his good books.
At the US-Africa Leaders Summit, it is no mystery that the president was clueless and largely silent. He was characterized as perhaps suffering from dementia. Clearly, he is too old for this.
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Source – Tru News Report