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Cameroon Says President Biya Not Ill

FILE - Cameroon's President Paul Biya.

Officials in Cameroon are denying that 82-year-old President Paul Biya is seriously ill.

Cameroon's Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, told reporters Tuesday that President Biya, who has been out of the country since March 3, is on a private trip in Europe and not seeking medical help in a Geneva hospital, as has been reported.

"The head of state, his Excellency Paul Biya and wife, are currently in a short private stay in Europe and their state of health is no circumstance to be worried about. The president of the republic and wife are doing good and fine," Tchiroma said.

The allegations, according to the communications minister, were first made by the French newspaper Le Monde. He called the report part of a smear campaign against Biya.

"Cameroonians are not ignorant of the open, ill-fated, and malicious conspiracy underpinning these repeated attacks perpetrated against our country through the media. But these denigrators and other prophets of doom should be aware that they will never jeopardize the determination of the Cameroonian nation and its leader to lead our country toward its destiny and growth," he said.

In June 2004, rumors circulated that Biya had died in a Swiss clinic. When he returned to Cameroon, he said on state television that those who wanted him dead must wait another 20 years.

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