Born on February 13, 1933 in Mvomeka’a, in the equatorial South region of Cameroon, Paul Biya moved from his humble beginnings to become one of Africa’s oldest and longest serving rulers.
He is 86 years old, and has outlived four French Presidents, five UK Prime Ministers and Five U.S Presidents.
The BBC and other Western Media outfits describe him as an absentee landlord, who governs from his Intercontinental Hotel suit in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Wall Street Journal recently cautioned the world not to declare him missing until his entire floor at the hotel is searched. Here he and his about 50-man entourage spend an average of $40,000 a day on hotel bills alone, excluding other amenities.
His chartered round trip to Geneva and back to Yaoundé cost about $855,000. He is a product of French colonial rule in Africa and has maintained an iron fist in this Central African country with a checkered history unopposed for almost four decades.
He is the continent’s second longest governing dictator, with circa 37 years as president, seven prior to that as Prime Minister, and a couple as minister.
This “African Strongman’s” horrible human rights record is no secret to the world – arbitrary arrests and disappearances, army and police brutality, mass bunker prisons, jailing of journalists among other crimes. Matters have just recently come to a head with the war against Boko Haram and the sociopolitical upheavals in the country’s North West and South West regions.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranks the country as the second in the world after Egypt in jailing journalists for false news charges. Biya has since used his 2014 anti-terrorism law to silence dissents and journalists.
The U.S State Department’s 2017 human rights report on the country puts the abuses squarely on the frail 86-year-old Paul Biya who is the legislative, judiciary and executive head of Cameroun, ordering arrests and detentions at will.
He equally controls every social and cultural life of the country including the Catholic Church, where prelates from his tribe have vehemently defended his ills.
While development has stagnated since 1982 when he took over power, his military has benefited from enormous latest western-style weapons and training. This support has elevated any uniform-wearing officer to the status of a demi-god.
Biya’s name is branded by these arrogant officers as a license for gross human rights abuses with impunity. Nowhere are these crimes evident daily than the systematic annihilation of the minority English-speaking population that has got a short end of the stick from a union with the majority French-speaking country, since 1961.
Here innocent civilians and their residents are razed by the soldiers with no remorse.
Just like Hitler called the Jews names to help in their extermination, Paul Biya and his killer squad started by calling the English-speaking people DOGS, and now secessionists or terrorists, thus justifying their extermination.
While supporters wished Biya divine guidance and a long life on his birthday, he did not attend the celebration at the Yaoundé Conference Center.
He organized a private, and reportedly lavish, party at his home village of Mvomeka in the South Region of Cameroon.
While Biya’s supporters celebrated, the opposition Cameroon Renaissance Movement Party held a protest march in Yaoundé calling on Biya to resign and for their leader, Maurice Kamto, to be freed.
Kamto, who claims Biya stole the October 7, 2019 presidential election, is under detention facing charges including rebellion for protesting the election results.
In 2008, Biya revised the constitution to remove presidential term limits. Critics called the move authoritarian and have long accused his government of rigging elections, allegations that officials deny.
University of Yaounde political analyst Christophe Tiennteu said Biya has ruled with an iron fist for too long. Cameroon, he said, is plunging into an indescribable chaos with incoherent governance and democratic practice. Faced with these challenges, he said, and while craving for change and an end to domination by one man, people are distancing themselves from moves by Biya and his followers that go against Cameroon’s interests.
If something were to happen to the 86-year-old president, said Tiennteu, Cameroon could face a very difficult transition.
While the constitution stipulates new elections if the office of president becomes vacant, Biya is not known to have prepared a successor.
Following the state dinner offered on May 20, 2019 by the Presidential couple Paul Biya and Chantal Biya Chantal at Unity Palace, many are those who have taken to social media to say that Biya now needs a nanny.
Or is the blood of those killed in the restive Anglophone Regions – including that of four-month-old Neba Maltha in Muyuka – be haunting the ailing dictator?
Chantal had in a somewhat public show of love and affection raised the hand of her husband right after the guy himself had waved at his guests.
Now, people have taken it to the field of discursive representation, extrapolating it to the most infinitesimal units of analysis.
But who does not know Chantal’s characteristic expressiveness? Chantal Biya and Paul Biya clocked 25 years in marriage on April 23, 2019. The duo got married on April 23, 1994 at Mont- Fébé in Yaoundé.
They are such a wonderful couple despite their 38-year age gap. Mrs. Biya is his second wife. He and his first wife, Jeanne-Irène Biya, were married for 32 years until her unfortunate death in 1992.
President Biya and his lovely wife, Chantal are blessed with two children, Junior Biya and Brenda Biya.
Indeed, Until death do us part on the throne for Paul and Chantal Biya!
Mimi Mefo Info