4, February 2018
Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, has finally succumbed to the inevitable, a source at the country’s presidency has revealed. The source at the Unity Palace, which elected unanimity, has informed Cameroon Concord News Group that everything points to the demise of the 85-year-old dictator who has ruled the Central African country for 35 years with an iron fist.
The source adds that given the way in which government officials have been visiting the Unity Palace over the last twelve hours, it is clear that Mr.Biya is no more. The atmosphere at the presidential palace is tense and government officials have been holding meetings to come up with a common response so as to keep the population in check.
Our source adds that members of the Cameroon strong man’s entourage are working hard to keep the information from the public square in the pious belief that they can change things to suit their intention. He stressed that the Secretary General at the presidency has been holding a series of meetings with some of his collaborators who have been advising him to issue decrees that will usher in constitutional changes on Mr. Biya’s behalf.
But the Secretary General and some of his collaborators are reluctant to undertake such an action as it may create a backlash and attract strong criticism from the international community that is intent on seeing meaningful political change in Cameroon.
Under the country’s current constitution, the constitutional successor is the president of the senate, Marcel Nyat Njifenji, himself 83years old and a collapsing figure who has been involved in the corruption and mismanagement that have become the country’s hallmark. Many Cameroonians hold that if the country has to change significantly, figures like the senate president and national assembly speaker have to disappear from the political scene.
It should be pointed out that Mr.Biya has been out of the spotlight for more than two weeks now and this has fueled rumor that his health situation has deteriorated. Our source, a member of the presidential guard, says he has seen some of the dictator’s closest collaborators leave Unity Palace in tears, while others have been pensive ever since they visited the 85-year-old dictator.
He has been suffering from prostrate cancer and a failing heart over the last decades and this has been exacerbated over the last year by the escalating Anglophone crisis that is threatening to tear the country apart.
It should be recalled that over the last two weeks, there have been rumors that Mr. Biya’s health had deteriorated and that he had been secretly taken out of the country for emergency treatment. However, our source at the presidency had intimated that Mr. Biya could not sit on an airplane for long hours and instead of flying him abroad, a team of cancer experts had been rushed from Switzerland to come and attend to the ailing dictator.
According to our source, ever since the experts arrived in Cameroon, Mr. Biya’s health has been a huge concern. The 85-year old has not been responding to cancer treatment and his failing heart has made it impossible for the experts to properly do their job. This has been compounded by the political situation in the country which has clearly wiped out the dictator’s shaky legacy and demonstrated how ineffective he has been in 35 years.
It is worth recalling that Cameroon Concord News had announced in October 21, 2017, that the ailing dictator who had been hospitalized in Switzerland for many weeks was simply coming home to bid farewell to friends and family based on intelligence obtained from sources in Switzerland.
The government of Mr. Biya, it should be noted, is full of octogenarians who have been in the corridors of power for more than sixty years and are prepared to ruin the country before leaving the world. The country’s economy is on its knees and the unemployment rate is concerning.
But the most challenging issue is the Anglophone problem that has put the country in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Following the declaration of independence on October 1, 2017, by the two Anglophone regions, many Anglophones have been killed at the behest of the country’s president whose methods of governance of choice have been intimidation and corruption. This has caused almost all Anglophones to see secession as the only option that can bring them the peace they need.
Even on October 21, 2017, when Mr. Biya had landed in Yaounde, there were serious concerns about his health. Behind the scenes and numerous cameras that were on hand to welcome the president at the Nsimalen International airport, was the fear that anything might happen anytime as Mr. Biya’s collaborators were aware of his deteriorating health and were scared that he might be back home just to bid farewell to them and his family.
Many analysts knew that the Anglophone problem was a nightmare that would not go away anytime soon and they knew that it would take a toll on the old president’s health. Even before heading to New York in October 2017 where he delivered a speech to an empty hall at the United Nations, Mr. Biya had to stop over in Geneva for him to get a medical boost from his doctors, but the long trip to New York was so demanding on him that he had to return to Switzerland for more medical support that has been costing the country an arm and a leg.
Our source in Geneva had advised at the time that Mr. Biya had been receiving treatment for a malignant cancer that was robbing the dictator of his strength and happiness. The source had added that besides cancer, Mr. Biya was also dealing with high blood pressure and a failing heart that might give up anytime.
In October 2017, Cameroon Concord News had reported that Mr. Biya had hard time alighting from the chartered aircraft that brought him back to the country. Mr. Biya whose real age is not known, has,over the last months, had a hard time sleeping, our source at the presidency said, adding that the “Monarch” has, over the last month, been chewing sedatives like candy, a situation that is concerning to his entourage, especially his wife. It was rumored at that time that the “Monarch” had headed home with an entire pharmacy, with sedatives accounting for about 60% of all the medicines that had been put on the chartered flight.
Other sources close to the government stress that Mr. Biya’shealth had been a problem for many years, but it took a turn for the worse when Anglophones decided to challenge his authority. He had declared in January 2017 that the form of the state was non-negotiable and since January 2017, Anglophones at home and abroad have been working hard to make the Anglophone crisis a millstone around his neck. The government has since tried to take a few cosmetic measures to appease Anglophones, but the English-speaking minority has been resolute and determined to walk away from a union whose foundation is, at best, shaky.
Over the last months, the situation has deteriorated, with armed groups engaging the country’s military in running battles which have resulted in more than 300 army soldiers and more than 400 civilians dying.
Mr. Biya’s death is very likely to lead to some political chaos. For years, he has been working hard to ensure that other leaders do not emerge. While his collaborators continue to seek ways to keep Cameroonians in the dark with the intention of changing the constitution, Cameroonians and the international community are closely watching as things play out.
By Rita Akana in Yaounde with files from Sama Ernest