Thursday, 30 August 2018

Cameroon's Paul Biya On Shaky Ground

The spiraling crisis in Cameroon's Anglophone regions has tarnished President Paul Biya's reputation in the West as an arbiter of stability in tenuous central Africa and could threaten his long hold on power.

The group of Cameroonians meeting under the blazing sun in Germany represents both sides of the divide in the conflict between armed Anglophone separatists and the country’s Francophone-dominated government.

The women are preparing the fish and meat for the men to barbecue, while a football tournament kicks off nearby. The French- and English-speaking guests at the annual get-together in the city of Bonn of Cameroonians living across Germany chit-chat with ease.

"We get along with each other well. It's a friendly community - it's a family community. There is no problem at all," Tambi Tabong, a physician who heads the Cameroonian Community in Bonn, tells DW.
Cameroon's Paul Biya On Shaky Ground
In the predominantly English-speaking north- and south-west Cameroon - home to around five million people - the picture is very different. Protests by the Anglophones who complained of being marginalized by the Francophone-led government spilled over into violence in 2016 that has escalated since.

Around the barbecue in Bonn, heritage aside, concerns over the escalating violence back home and criticism of the leadership of Paul Biya – Cameroon’s the president for 36 years – are shared.

Tabong says he is scared to return home to Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest Region, and one of the worst-affected areas.

"For me, it's sad. We have been hoping and praying for change for a long time now, but we have the same status quo. Everyone who is reasonable wishes for change in Cameroon," he tells DW.

The Anglophones and Francophones alike complain about Biya’s leadership.

"He has been in power because people [around him] want to keep him for personal gains," says Jean Paul Brice Affana, a Bonn-based Cameroonian environmental activist.

"If Paul Biya had decided to run again for another term, it's not because he wanted it. He is old. If you see him, he is old and tired," he tells DW,

Affana was born six years after Biya came to power. His view that the Yaounde government has lost touch with the people — especially the youth – is shared by many Cameroonians. Cameroon's Paul Biya On Shaky Ground

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