While U.S. votes, Cameroon “celebrates”

Biya celebrates his 30th year as president. Photo AFP

While Americans went to the polls to decide if Barack Obama would serve a second term, Cameroonians “celebrated” the 30th year in office of their president, Paul Biya.

Those who felt that  30 years in power was a cause for protest, rather than celebration, were met with tear gas and water cannons when they attempted to stage a peaceful opposition event.

“We had just started the peaceful march when a large number of well-armed police and gendarmes deployed by the repressive regime of Biya used water cannon, teargas and other weapons to disperse and brutalise thousands of our activists,” Jean Michel Nintcheu, an opposition member of parliament, told Reuters by phone from Douala.

“What happened to us here in Douala represents what Cameroon has been going through during his 30 years in power,” Nintcheu said, adding that several observers and journalists attending the event were also beaten by security forces.

The BBC reported that Cameroon’s “Lion Man,” Paul Biya, is now one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. The article cites Biya’s “ruthlessness” as a key to his political longevity, pointing to the fate of Biya allies who expressed presidential ambition:  “One of his doctors is in jail for corruption, a former interior minister has just started a 25-year sentence on similar charges; a former prime minister is currently on trial and two others have gone into exile.” The BBC also reminds readers that the respected veteran journalist, the late Pius Njawe, spent nearly a year in prison after his newspaper, Le Messager, reported that Biya had fallen ill while watching a football match in 1998.

Cameroonian writer, Dibussi Tande, reflects on the anti-Biya democracy movement of 1991. “21 years later,” he writes, “President Biya is still in power and very much in control of the Cameroonian political landscape. In fact, his only real challenger seems to be the ticking clock of nature.”

One Response to “While U.S. votes, Cameroon “celebrates””

  1. Kounchou Jorel says:

    Protesters could chose another day not this day where militants of the ruling party were gathered, thos was nothing else but provocation which would have not left indifferent the CPDM members and the riposte would have been violent. All the former high state officials who find themselves in prison today are charged for embezzlement and there are proofs, go and check rather than report nonsense. If the opposition has not been able to challenge President Paul Biya because they are dull, then only time will challenge him.

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