Cameroon is struggling with a 5-year long conflict in its North West and South West Regions. There is zero solution. The war against Boko Haram appears not be paying off. The country is in ruins but some are only concerned about staying in power.
Eyebe Ayissi Henri, the Central African country’s Minister of State Property, Surveys and Land Tenure has rallied his peers of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party in Lekie Division to call on 88-year-old President Paul Biya to extend his 39-year rule long after 2025.
Biya has been president of Cameroon since November 1982 and his current 7-year mandate is due to end in 2025.
But even before his mandate runs to an end, Eyebe Ayissi is calling on President Paul Biya to ready himself to extend his 39-year rule over Cameroon past 2025, justifiably so since parliament had in 2008 given Biya a blank cheque. It had adopted a constitutional bill removing a presidential two-term limit. It gives Biya the luxury to die in power – a setback for democracy.
Biya is deciding the destiny of the world’s fourth biggest cocoa grower, which ranks in sub-Saharan Africa’s top 10 economies. Cameroon lies on the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, though its modest crude oil output of around 90,000 barrels per day is half its 1980s peak, a situation further compounded by rising insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Should Biya answer the Lekie Call, it means his 2025 re-election will likely be a formality.
Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) enjoys a huge majority, controlling almost all the seats in the National Assembly and in the Senate. It also enjoys control over the military and the public wealth.
The CPDM oversaw the introduction of a new constitution in 1996 which limited presidents to two seven-year terms. Biya’s second term under that constitution expired in 2011, but given that he had made it clear in a New Year speech that he would like to stay on, it is not known if he plans on giving u anytime soon. He even said staying in power for long is for those who can, not those who wish.
Biya won more than 71 percent of the vote in a 2018 presidential election which opponents said was rigged. Biya’s party denies cheating and has been jailing members of the opposition who have since refused to concede defeat.
The likes of Dr. Fridoline Nke and Roger Justine Noah say they are opposed to Paul Biya staying in power after 2025.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has been in power for nearly four decades and is Africa’s oldest and second longest-serving leader.
Some critics of Biya’s long rule suspect he is seeking a family dynasty given that calls for him to run in 2025 coincide with calls for his son, Franck, to succeed him.
The most prominent of the four groups asking Franck Biya to replace his father is the Citizens Movement in Support of Franck Biya for Peace and Unity in Cameroon.
Its coordinator, Alain Fidele Owona, says the movement was created at the request of young Cameroonians to support a young man to take over from the 88-year-old president. He says his movement supports Franck Biya because of his high sense of patriotism and love for nation.
Franck Biya is a very serious and discrete young man who works very close to his father Paul Biya for the development of Cameroon. He says Franck Biya is very polite, does not squander state resources and is a trained political scientist, which makes him highly qualified to succeed his father. He says he does not think Franck Biya will be able to decline ceaseless calls from the Cameroonian people to be president.
Owona leads groups of young people every weekend to Cameroon towns and villages. He says civilians must be informed that Cameroon will have a peaceful transition only by rallying behind Franck Biya should Paul Biya leave power.
Owona said his movement and others calling on Frank to be president are neither influenced by President Biya nor his close collaborators.
Secondary school teacher Fidelis Njomo in the city of Douala doesn’t believe that, and says he opposes the attempt to establish a family dynasty.
“Cameroon is not a monarchy. Cameroon is a state of law, and should the 88-year-old Paul Biya die, the constitution says the president of the Senate, not Franck Biya, takes over leadership. Paul Biya and his supporters should stop this manipulation that is intended to maintain their grip on power,” Njomo said.
Franck Biya, who is 49, currently serves as one of his father’s advisers but has not expressed any interest publicly in becoming president.
Prudencia Ngeh, a political analyst and visiting lecturer at Ndi Samba, a private university in Cameroon, says the trend in Central African states is for the sons of long-serving leaders to succeed their fathers.
“It is as if leaders in Central Africa want to stay in power until they die, and before they die, they prepare their children to take over. Omer Bongo in Gabon handed over to his son Ali Bongo. In Chad, Idriss Deby died, and his son Mahamat Deby wants to succeed him,” Ngeh said.
Paul Biya, who has been Cameroon’s president since 1982, is rarely seen in public these days. Ngeh said she would not be surprised if the octogenarian president one day proclaims Franck Biya as his successor. Whether Paul or Franck, it will end up being a Biya affair.
Lekie Division in the Centre Region is noted for starting similar campaigns, especially championed by Eyebe Ayissi Henri. It always starts in the Lekie and then goes nationwide. As Biya celebrates his 39th anniversary in power on November 6, 2021, calls for him to pick a fresh mandate in 2025 will sure multiply.
We recall that it was Eyebe Ayissi Henri who started the efforts to support the war against Boko Haram. He launched the people’s call in 2018 in Monatele. He has also been championing the “Cameroon is one and indivisible” chorus. The calls for Biy to run in 2025 will be no different. It will soon garner steam and before we know it, Biya would have taken a fresh mandate.