News / Africa

    Cameroon's President Enters 31st Year in Power

    FILE - Cameroon's President Paul Biya departing a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
    FILE - Cameroon's President Paul Biya departing a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
    Cameroon's President Paul Biya is celebrating more than three decades in power.  The octogenarian became president of the West African nation 31 years ago when his predecessor, Ahmadou Ahijo, resigned. Critics have often criticized Biya for failing to hand over power, democratically or otherwise. Now, opposition political parties are using the anniversary to ask him to prepare a smooth transition to democratic rule. 
     
    Supporters of the 80-year-old president of Cameroon have been organizing sport and cultural activities and political rallies to celebrate Paul Biya's 31st year in power.
     
    Professor Ngole Ngole Elvis, a frontline supporter of the octogenarian, says supporters of Biya have a moral responsibility to celebrate their leader's successes.
     
    “We have the right to rejoice because we have peace in our beloved country. There is liberty and an open pluralistic and democratic atmosphere,” said Elvis.
     
    Supporters of the president credit him for respecting people's liberties and freedoms. 
     
    Anow Ebie, a journalist who works for Cameroon's state broadcaster, CRTV, says the increasing number of media outlets in Cameroon is indicative of democratic advances under Biya's leadership.
     
    “When President Paul Biya came to power in 1982, Cameroon had a one-party system. Today we have close to 300 [political parties]. We had just a state newspaper, Cameroon Tribune.  Today there are uncountable [papers]. And then there was just one radio station, Radio Cameroon. Today we have several radio stations, several television stations,” explained Ebie.
     
    However, Ano Ebie's views are not shared by fellow journalist Amungwa Nicodemus, publisher of the Cameroon Mirror newspaper in the capital, Yaounde.
     
    “It is a farce. Recently Cameroon was on the eye of the cyclone when newspapers and media houses were cracked down [on] and journalists slammed [with] sanctions. This is unfortunate for Cameroon. He appointed those who did the shut down,” said Nicodemus.
     
    Paul Biya served as prime minister from 1975 to 1982 and then became president following the resignation of Cameroon's first leader, Ahmadou Ahidjo.  A two-term limit in the 1996 constitution should have prevented him from running again, but in 2008 he revised the constitution to eliminate presidential term limits.  He won a contested victory in the 2011 election. 
     
    Banazem Joseph, an opposition member of Cameroon's National Assembly, says bad electoral laws have enabled Biya to stay in power.
     
    “We will insist and fight for the limitation of the presidential mandate and the improvement of the electoral process. I know that the regime is a crude one and does not listen to any other person. We cannot go for the next election without looking into the electoral code,” said Joseph.
     
    Many young Cameroonians who spoke to VOA say nothing is changing, despite the president's promises to transform Cameroon into a huge construction site to create jobs and lower the unemployment rate, now estimated at 40 percent.
     
    Ben Collins Nyuyberiwo, who was born two years after Biya took power, says the president should relinquish power to someone younger.
     
    “We are still talking of the same president, Paul Biya, Paul Biya, Paul Biya. I am just out from school looking for a job and it is just disgusting,” said Nyuyberiwo.
     
    Biya is serving the second year in his current seven-year term. Many in Cameroon suspect that if his health holds up, he will likely run again for president in 2018.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Isaac from: Cambodia
    November 08, 2013 12:09 PM
    Actually, the caption is wrong. Mr. Biya came to power on 6 November 1982. So by 6 November 2013, he has already served for 31 years. He is now entering his 32nd year (not his 31st) in power.

    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    November 07, 2013 2:26 AM
    African's old guards should learn how to pave the way for the new generation to leadership of their respected countries.
    Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Robert Mugabe and Paul Biya have to find a graceful way to resign from power before African "SPRING" forcefully remove them from power in disgraceful way. Africa's Super One Man Show era is gone!!

    by: Ecoman from: Nigeria
    November 06, 2013 12:40 PM
    Biya's 31 years in power is due to ignorance and fear on the part of both supporters and opposers. Who knows whether France and her allies are secretly backing the old man. This cannot happen in Nigeria without hell letting loose.

    by: egbe egbuta uyere from: nigeria
    November 06, 2013 5:43 AM
    paul biya is the like of robert mugabe of zimbabwue two big names in the political dynamics of the continent that have bluntly refused to relinquish power on the grounds of been the agents political stability in their countries. Such believe is a complete farce to me because no sane person could use his country to reward himself as mugabe would always posit that he fought for the liberation of zimbabwue so...and paul on the other side would posit he has always been an agent of political stability in cameroun so...?

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora