YAOUNDE - There have been continuing calls from his supporters for Paul Biya, the 83-year-old president of Cameroon who has been in power for more than three decades, to stand again as candidate for president. The calls, which opposition parties are strongly condemning, are also asking Biya to call early presidential elections. The president's opponents say each time Biya wants to organize elections he orders his supporters to invite him to run to give an impression he is loved by the people.
Thousands of people have been transported to the town of Monatele, near Cameroon's capital Yaounde, by government ministers, influential businessmen and politicians of the ruling political party, the Cameroon's Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM). Henry Eyebe Ayissi, Cameroon's Minister of Agriculture, said they have assembled the people to publicly show their support to Cameroon President Paul Biya.
"We are appealing to the head of state to organize presidential election this year 2016. And it needs that he use the constitutional powers he has to modify the constitution so that we organize this anticipated election," said Ayissi.
Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, a spokesperson for Biya's party, said he is pleasantly surprised at the spontaneity of the calls.
He called it an initiative of grassroots Cameroonians and said no one has been manipulated to ask Biya to be a candidate. He said the people want the man who has guaranteed the social, cultural and economic development of Cameroon to be a candidate for president again. Ndongo added the hierarchy of the party has not influenced anyone to make declarations supporting Biya's candidacy.
Nforngwa Stanley, who said he is a grassroots supporter of Biya's party, disagrees, and said opinions were not sought from people like him.
"The people's call does not imply that there are people talking. There are really some greedy Cameroonians around who just want to make their voices to be heard and held (hold) their positions [in government] so that makes no sense to me. If you go back to the organization of the CPDM party you will realize that no one can stand an election with him. He wants to remain in power," said Stanley.
Ndansi Elvis, youth president for the opposition National Union for Democracy and Progress, said he is convinced Biya initiated the calls for his re-election himself.
"It should have been the CPDM call, not the people's call. It is a psychological game they are playing, but I think it is very unnecessary because all of us are sensitive about the fact that it is not just about his willingness to be in power, it is also about his performance, his age and everything. There is need for change and Cameroonians are thirsty for that change," said Elvis.
Paul Biya was prime minister from 1975 to 1982 when he became president following the resignation of the central African state's first leader, Ahmadou Ahidjo. In 2008 he revised the 1996 constitution and eliminated presidential term limits.?Biya is in his 5th year of his current seven-year term.