Suffocating In Multiple Crises, Cameroon Unable To Publicly Celebrate Its 48th National Day

Cameroon observed its 48th National Day this May 20, but without the usual effervescence.

Unlike in past years, there are no public ceremonies, no march-pasts and no military drills.

While security has been reinforced in most parts of the country, everything else remains calm in most key towns.

The country called off public celebrations for the event this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. This was reiterated by President Paul Biya in his speech last night, the first in over two months.

Addressing the nation on the eve of the National Day, many Cameroonians hold that he failed to highlight key attributes of the Nation’s Unity, nor did he address other crises bedeviling the country.

He described the day as “an occasion to celebrate with joy our national unity as well as our republican and Democratic values.”

The 87-year-old president however did not mention anything else on the National Day’s significance or more importantly, the threat posed by the over three-year long war in the North West and South West regions.

With over 3,000 lives lost in the crisis already, the president has relied on force to get separatists to down their weapons, crushing those that fail to do so.

Days back, Swiss President, Simonetta Sommaruga broke her country’s silence on the crisis when she revealed that she had a phone conversation with Biya on how to restore peace in the English-Speaking regions. Many also expected the Head of State to dwell on that but that was not the case.

Biya spoke almost exclusively on the coronavirus pandemic, praising donors and describing the health system as “mobilized” for the combat.

He later hinted on rumours of his death that hit social media weeks back,. “I would like to tell you … Not to panic and not to believe in fake news conveyed especially by social media”.

“Let us channel all our energies towards fighting this common enemy,” he ended.

Image: archive

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