When Cameroon’s Coup D’état failed in 1984, many held the view that the end of the Biya Regime was imminent.
38 years on, the 89 year-old and his New Deal Government are still consolidating their hold on all the orifices of power in Cameroon.
President Paul Biya, had only been in power for 2 years when the coup happened, but managed to avert a violent coup that may have changed the history of the country had it gone successfully.
How it all happened
As early as 3:20 am, the attempt began, with inhabitants of Yaoundé being gripped with fear after several gunshots were heard coming from the Presidency at Etoudi.
The attempt was mounted by the defunct Republican Guards that had been replaced with today’s Presidential Guards.
Several calls were made to security personnel responsible for safeguarding the life of the president to enquire about what was happening at the Presidency.
General Oumaroudjam, an experienced intelligence officer suspected where the assault might have stemmed from, and immediately called one of the leaders of the coup Colonel Saleh Ibrahim, commander of the Republican Guards to ask him about the attack.
He was told it was an ongoing coup attempt and was immediately asked to take a position as soon as possible.
Having failed to give a direct response, the General was soon under attack as his office was bombarded by the Republican Guards.
Fortunately for him, he survived the attack as he had taken shelter earlier.
Gendarmerie Colonel Akono Herman was also phoned and asked to take a position on the attempt, having equally not given a definitive response, he immediately entered his car and drove off before the arrival of the Republican Guards.
Another group also launched an attack at the home of General Pierre Semengué, then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. General Semengué however managed to get himself and his family out safely through a hole.
Once out of danger, Semengué organized a troop for a fightback immediately. Few of the rebels were shot and killed on the streets by Semengué and his group.
Elsewhere, another rebel group had smashed the gates of the National radio house and taken over to announce the coup during the first morning broadcast hour.
The Yaoundé airport had also been taken over, and flights from other parts of the world were prevented from landing in the capital.
Back at the Presidency, having succeeded to surround the Unity Palace, they managed to subdue the Presidential guards who feigned surrendering to join the coup.
The naive rebels believed the Biya loyalists and handed them back their weapons.
Having fallen for the deception, Captain Ivo of the Presidential guards cunningly succeeded to gather the rebels together and then neutralized them with the aid of the other loyalists.
39 Years On…As the Biya government battles to keep the country together as it is besieged by conflicts from North to South, there are many questions as to what direction the country would have taken had things gone differently that night.
As young Cameroonians die at the hands of soldiers and vice versa, there are many who today question whether the soldiers who averted the coup in 1984, did the country a service or disservice.
Mimi Mefo Info