mercredi 6 août 2014

Paul Biya: 82 years old, 32 years in power - Bad leadership for Africa

Paul Biya: 82 years old, 32 years in power - Bad leadership for Africa
On the occasion of the ongoing US African leaders’ summit, we at CamerNation (movement for thought and action for democracy in Cameroon) are taking this opportunity, to tell the world about one of the most notorious guest at this historical event.

We want to talk about Paul Biya, one of the longest reigning dictators in the world. Paul Biya has been ruling Cameroon with absolute power now for 32 years. The Cameroon people have been hostage of his gang like regime for a very long time. They have been deeply marked in their flesh, for generations to come and they want the world to hear their cry.

1- Coming to power

Paul Biya came to power on November 6 1982. He benefited from a constitutional transfer of power from Ahmadou Ahidjo, first president of Cameroon, who handpicked him to rule the country, as Ahidjo himself resigned physically exhausted, from 22 years of brutal rule. By all accounts Ahidjo chose Biya, the most unqualified member of his cabinet, so he could use him as a puppet to continue ruling the country from retirement. Under the advisory pressure of tribe members of his cabinet, Paul Biya quickly changed the plan and started consolidating all the powers for himself.

To ensure absolute power for himself, Biya set out to arrest or eliminate all political threats. Elites from the northern region, birth place of the departing president, were the principal target. He set out vast campaign to rid the army and all administrative offices of northerners.

The high point of this human clean up came after the botched coup of April 6 1984, allegedly attempted by disgruntled army officers from the north. The coup failed and all presumes parties were arrested, quickly trial and executed. Many more spent horrendous long years of torture and starvation in state prisons. The 1984 coup was from all accounts a turning point in the coming to power of Paul Biya, the climax of his dictatorship in Cameroon. This was a major opportunity Paul Biya took, to populate the army, state run companies and all administrative offices with people from his tribe and loyal circle.

2- Doing all he can to stay in power

Since the coup of 1984, Biya has ruled the country with a gang of friends and tribesmen, who have been so far the sole beneficiaries of the meager wealth the country has produced. Paul Biya have

institutionalized favoritism, corruption and tribalism, at all levels of the country Army, State run companies or public offices. This system has ensured him unwavering support among the army officers and the elite, ensuring his long stay in power for all these years.

The only glimmer of hope for the people of Cameroon came during the 1990’s. Encouraged by the wave of change and democracy that moved across Africa at that time, the people overcame their fears and took to the streets to demand democracy. The repression was terrible; many lost their lives to the bullets of Paul Biya loyal army. Despite all the suffering the pressure was kept on the dictatorship. Paul Biya was forced to allow the creation of opposition parties and the gestation of democracy in Cameroon, for the first time since its independence from France in 1960.

In 1992 the first democratic elections was held in Cameroon, by all account Paul Biya and his party conducted massive fraud to balance the result in their favor. The Supreme Court, laden with judges loyal to him, declared Paul Biya the winner. Ever since, Paul Biya and his cronies have been working hard to dismantle democracy in Cameroon.

In 1996, after having filled the national assembly, the local congress, with members of his ruling party through nationwide fraudulent elections, Paul Biya changed the constitution, granting himself full power and immunity. Changes were also made to switch his constitutional replacement, from the prime minister to the president of the non-existent senate. This move guaranteed that Paul Biya no more had any possible aspirant to his power; it also left the country in a dangerous constitutional emptiness. So from 1996 until recently in 2012, Cameroon had no Senate and thus no one to replace the president in case of death or incapacity.

In 2008, with the presidential election getting close, Paul Biya was term limited by the constitution, he changed it again. This time lifting any limit and ensuring him the ability to be de facto president of Cameroon for life. Exceeded citizens took the street to express their outrage, scores were killed and imprisoned.

Despite all proven benefits to the economy, education and the country as a whole, Paul Biya still refuse dual citizenship for the vast majority of Cameroonians, solely for political reasons. His regime chose not to enforce the law for some of his political allies, and athletes for the national teams. We should say Paul Biya have use victories of national team in soccer to his political advantage.

3- Justice as political weapon

In Cameroon no one is safe from the wrath of the regime and its beneficiaries. People are snatched from their homes and thrown in jail for years with no trial. Many people will die in jail before reaching their trial date. Dissent is not tolerated by the Biya regime, they use the police and the justice system to punish political opponents and get revenge on personal dealings.

Most progressives’ members of his own entourage and political party are in jail on various corruptions charges. It is subject of national joke in the press and people gathering, that an entire government is in prison. The Nkondengui prison in Yaoundé, the capital, is now home to former prime minister and dozens of previous senior cabinet members. It is no secret that most felt victim to their political disagreement with the regime.

A special tribunal was created with the powers to bypass due process; timeframe was cut for arrests and trial period. This tribunal can now arrest, trial and jailed anyone in matter of weeks. The presidency general secretary office, now serves as the paramount prosecutorial body in the country. They pick who to arrest, give order to the police, custom and the army; they direct judges and state prosecutors and even overturn judges’ decisions.

By all independent accounts, the sole purpose of the special Tribunal was to extent once more, Biya power over citizens’ life and trump on whatever is left of the rule of law.

Most prominent business men are forced to join the ruling party and show support to Paul Biya and his regime, in order to protect their businesses from persecution and harassment.

4- Hands off government

Cameroon is a country that basically governs itself with no one effectively in charge. Paul Biya spends most of his time in long trips in Europe. He goes away for months at the time. It is said he have booked entire floors at the Hotel Intercontinental in Geneva Switzerland, where he settles for months at the time with large group of friends and family, spending lavishly the meager resources of our country.

Paul Biya never holds any cabinet meetings; he has never met most of his cabinet members. Nomination to a leadership role in a government ministry in Cameroon has nothing to do with a person education, skills or experience. It’s all about political compensation, tribal connections or personal transactions. In Cameroon public servants have no accountability to the people.

Corrupted bureaucracy makes it almost impossible to create a business, get a legal document like a passport or a birth certificate. It is usual for citizens to be force to pay a bribe to collect their salary at state run banks.

Cameroon has been nominated many times by transparency international as the most corrupt country in the world.

5- An Economy in shambles

Since 1997, the country of Cameroon has been struggling through an unprecedented economic crisis. With wages plunging and one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, Cameroonians have been living a hopeless life.

Most Cameroonians don't have a job, they don't have a salary. For the last 25 years the large majority of young Cameroonians who graduated from local universities and colleges, ended up as street vendors, motorbike taxi drivers or prostitutes. Paul Biya personally encourage young people to take on motorbike taxi driving, a reputed dangerous profession. Scores of young Cameroonians have died in motorbike taxi accidents, trying to earn a living. Paul Biya regime is completely unresponsive to the youth need. No serious program to address chronic unemployment has been setup by the government.

When you look at the landscape of the country of Cameroon, pretty much no landmark investment have been made since Paul Biya came to power in 1982. For now 32 years, public infrastructure has been crumbling to pieces. No new road have been built, old ones are simply rotting away. Entire regions of the country are becoming inaccessible. The education system is breaking apart. Paul Biya has never presented to a country an education policy of any kind.

Corruption has corroded all aspects of life in Cameroon.

There is mounting evidence that Paul Biya don't care about Cameroon or its people. He, his family and friends have been using the country as a giant wallet, looting the country to the bone.

As the US receives African leader we want the world to know …

According to various public records, the US provided to Cameroon more than 50 million dollars in foreign assistance for various purposes in 2012. A good part of that aid money was directed to the purpose of military related activities. We don’t think this is a proper way for the United States to help the people of Cameroun, who have been enduring the regime of Paul Biya now for too long. Any military aid to Cameroon, is money dedicated to maintain one man in power, it is money to be used to crush dissent and kill any hope for democracy in the impoverished central Africa country.

We at CamerNation don’t think the American people want to finance dictatorship in Cameroon. We ask President Obama to pass executive order suspending Military assistance to Cameroon. We ask President Obama to choose the side of the Cameroon people, in our long struggle for justice and Democracy.

We believe that, after 32 year of destructive rule, at 82, Paul Biya must step aside and let the Cameroon people take control of their own life, and freely choose their leader, to set them on a path to build the country and live a better life. Paul Biya represents a dying breed, people who have refused to share the prosperity of an entire country with the people, instead selfishly kept all for themselves with force. Paul Biya is bad leadership for Africa and the world.

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