Cameroon’s Biya: assessing his 38 years in power

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Cameroon’s Biya: assessing his 38 years in power

He was welcomed with open arms, but broken promises, corruption and the anglophone crisis look to be his legacy

Julius A. Amin

Cameroon’s president Paul Biya celebrated his 88th birthday recently, making him the oldest president in Africa. He has been in power for 38 years. Birthday celebrations held across the country were met with protest by the opposition, demanding that he step down. So how has he acquitted himself in office and what has been his legacy for Cameroon?

Cameroonians welcomed Biya when he became president in November 1982. The peaceful transfer of power by his predecessor, Ahmadou Ahidjo, won Cameroon praise as an example to emulate in Africa, where leaders held on to power for too long, through duplicity and violence, or were forced out.

Ahidjo was ruthless, authoritative and vicious. He ruled by intimidation. Under him rivals were hunted down, tortured, killed or forced into exile. He was the “source of all power in the state”...

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