News / Africa

    Should Cameroon President Paul Biya Run Again?

    FILE - Cameroon President Paul Biya, shown in 2013, has ruled since 1982. Some of his countrymen say that's too long. His supporters disagree.
    FILE - Cameroon President Paul Biya, shown in 2013, has ruled since 1982. Some of his countrymen say that's too long. His supporters disagree.

    In Cameroon, President Paul Biya’s backers are urging him to move up national elections and seek another term for himself while opponents say his 34 years in power has been more than enough.

    On Thursday, both camps staged demonstrations here in the capital, and members of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement marked the party’s 31st anniversary by showing support for the president at events across the country.  

    Here in Younde, supporters sang that Biya is their leader and father and that, at age 83, the man remains sharp enough to be president for as long as he wants.

    Charlemagne Messanga Nyamding, a CPDM central committee member, said his party wants Biya to change the constitution and organize early elections. The next presidential poll is scheduled for 2018, and a term is seven years. Biya already revised the constitution in 2008 to remove presidential term limits.

    Nyamding said Cameroonians have always loved Biya. He said they continue to believe in the president because he has shown – through experience, courage and determination – that he's the best person to develop Cameroon and protect it from crisis and security threats.

    Opposition efforts

    But across town, opposition parties organized protests.

    Lawmaker Patricia Ndam Njoya of the Cameroon Democratic Union said the country should concentrate on more pressing matters such as development, reforming the electoral code and defeating Boko Haram. The militant extremist group has been attacking security forces and civilians in the north since last year.

    Njoya said she found it curious that, with increasing security threats from Boko Haram terrorists and Central African Republic militants, Biya would be so focused on retaining the presidency for life. She called it a total injustice.

    Njoya said opposition groups need to unite behind a single candidate, something they never have been able to do before.

    Ruling party central committee member Benoit Ndong Soumet said those who say they don’t see positive steps by Biya are blind and ungrateful. 

    No end to African strongman era

    Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since November 1982, is the oldest sub-Saharan African president after Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwe leader, who turned 92 in February, has headed that country since late 1987.

    The end of the African strongman era was predicted back in 2014, when mass protests in Burkina Faso ousted President Blaise Compaore after 27 years in power.

    But several countries have proved otherwise.

    The longtime leaders of Uganda and the Republic of Congo have just won fresh terms in office, though results of both polls are being contested. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni has ruled since 1986; Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso has led his country since 1979 except for five years in the 1990s.

    Rwanda overwhelmingly voted yes in December to change its constitution so President Paul Kagame, who has held office since 2000, could run for as many as three additional terms. And Chadian President Idriss Deby, leader since 1990, looks poised to win a fifth term in April.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Sopani Sichinga from: Malawi
    March 25, 2016 4:43 PM
    African leaders. Greedy is a disease you are suffering from.

    by: Anonymous
    March 25, 2016 4:59 AM
    Cameroon is sick for letting Biya ruin the country for 34 years. Benin has had change of leaders, I dont know what is wrong with central african sub region. Sit tight leaders.
    Its a pity cameroon has had a lazy leader for 34 years who has cursed the country with his failed policies

    by: BOBOOOO from: Yaounde
    March 24, 2016 7:22 PM
    A man has to creep, stand, walk before he can run. As we speak right now, Biya is crawling.
    So he can't even walk. The man has been at the helm for 34 years with nothing to show for. His inner circle with their greedy minds are the only ones advocating for him to run.

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora