8, July 2020
Paul Biya may not feature prominently in discussions about how Irish politics might be made more representative, more engaging, and less unattractive to myriad intelligent, socially aware, and committed citizens discouraged by the unchanging, numbing predictability of it all.
The personal and family costs risked by participation can be dissuading too.
So are the increasingly toxic, anti-democratic, character assassinations on consequence-free social media. Biya, at 88, is the world’s longest-serving state leader. He has been president of Cameroon since 1982, and served as prime minister from 1975 to 1982. He consolidated his power in 1984 during an attempted coup when he eliminated most of his rivals.
Biya has achieved what Russia’s Vladimir Putin hopes to achieve — authority for life. Just last week, Putin saw 77.9% of voters endorse ending presidential term limits allowing him the possibility of power until 2036.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, did not feel the need to even ask when, two years ago, the term limits of the Chinese presidency were abolished. When conversations about what might happen if US president Donald Trump loses in November but refuses to quit office began, they seemed liberals’ paranoia but maybe no longer.
Should he be re-elected, it seems at least possible he may try to imitate Putin and Xi . To even suggest that may seem bizarre but then most of what he does is bizarre.
We may not, hopefully, have a Biya, Putin, Xi, or Trump hiding in the long grass but we do have a cohort all too comfortable with life-long careers as politicians.
Culled from Irish Examiner