To Go Or To Stay: 37 years In Power, Is Paul Biya A Dictator ?
Today, 86 year old incumbent President Paul Biya marks 37 years in Power.
Paul Biya became president of Cameroon on November 6, 1982 following the resignation of Ahmadou Ahidjo.
One of president Paul Biya’s greatest success came when he signed the Greentree Agreement on June 12, 2006 with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo which ‘formally’ put an end to the Bakassi peninsula border dispute, yet Biya by his reign, has hugely been considered a tyrant and dictator in a world class of his own.
Is Paul Biya a Dictator ?
Paul Barthelemy Biya Bi Mvondo is currently the longest-ruling non-royal leader in the world and the oldest ruler in Africa. He will be 92 when his current mandate ends in 2025.
More than 65 percent of Cameroonian youths were not born before he assumed office as Head of State in 1982.
Biya became Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon when he was below 35years (in 1968), and was appointed Prime Minister, Head of Government seven years later.
Today, youths below the age of forty, will hardly be appointed Minister under his regime.
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About opposition, Biya initially took steps to open up his regime and the decision to legalize opposition parties in 1990 which led to the rise of parties like the Social Democratic Fund(SDF) and legendary Ni John Fru Ndi, a Cameroonian politician accredited for pioneering opposition activities.
Though the opposition was introduced, no party has been able to unseat Biya. Till date Paul Biya has won all elections.
From the first multiparty presidential election held on October 11, 1992, the 1997 elections, 2004, 2011 and the most recent 2018 elections which is still under much criticism for the imprisonment of Maurice Kamto.
President Paul Biya’s regime has been hugely accused for corruption, embezzlement and dictatorship with the continuous silencing of political opponents, activists and journalists opposed to his regime.
In 2009, Biya was featured the 19th in Parade Magazine‘s Top 20 list of “The World’s Worst Dictators.”
“Tyrants, the World’s 20 Worst Living Dictators”, a book by David Wallechinsky also ranked Biya among the world’s worst dictators.
David wrote “Every few years, Biya STAGES an election to justify his continuing reign, but these elections have no credibility.
In fact, Biya is credited with a creative innovation in the world of phony elections.
In 2004, annoyed by the criticisms of international vote-monitoring groups, he paid for his own set of international observers, six ex-U.S congressmen, who certified his election as free and fair.”
Cameroon under President Paul Biya is supported by France, which supplies it with weapons and trains its repressive forces.
France is the leading foreign investor, ahead of the United States.
In early 2017, Biya’s government was hit by huge anti government protests which met harsh reactions from the military leading to the Cameroon anglophone crisis.
Videos and reports surfaced online showing facts that a genocide was taking place in Southern Cameroon, sanctioned and led by the Biya regime.
Allegations of indiscriminate killing, burning of villages, rape and humiliation of English-speaking citizens perpetrated by the BIR (Bataillon d’Intervention Rapide) have been proven true with online video footages.
Though Human rights bodies and international organisations have condemned the genocide, the Biya regime has consistently refused to admit it is guilty.
At least 2,000 people have been killed, more than 500,000 displaced, 200+ villages burnt down with over a thousand people arrested, tortured or detained.
As Biya celebrates 37 years in power, it is a big puzzle if Cameroonians want him in power – a decision to stay or to go !
The nation is plagued by the Cameroon Anglophone crisis as the southern part continuously fights to secede to a state they call Ambazonia.
The Anglophone regions are faced with serious insecurity with constant war and gun battles between Ambazonian forces and Cameroon military.