Is President Paul Biya’s regime on the verge of crumbling? Happenings over the past three months suggest it is. First are the obvious signs: the reemergence of Boko Haram attacks in the Far North region demanding immediate deployment of more troops, a long standing ally President Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea now set to build a wall to prevent Cameroonians from entering his country, the Southern Cameroons war that has become more intractable, the security situation in the East region that is deteriorating at catastrophic rapidity and the curious fact that the man himself is suffering from cancer. But there are some equally intriguing bits of circumstantial evidence.
The first emerged recently, when Biya signed a decree informing Cameroonians that the Secretary General at the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh will henceforth deputise for him. Many within the Francophone regime responded privately by stating that such a move has no constitutional backing. The arrest of former Defense Minister Edgar Alain Mebo Ngo’o had long signalled that Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh was already in charge and the ailing Biya and his ruling Beti Ewondo clan were attempting to prevent a major break deep inside the government. And would Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh have so crudely ridiculed Mebo Ngo’o—and, by extension, the Francophone dominated Beti Ewondo military, which has favoured the Biya regime if he did not realise the end was near?
Recently, the Biya government has been kicking international human rights groups and their representatives out of the country. The International Crisis Group was forced to leave as there was fear that the renowned body was helping the world to witness the impending collapse of the Biya regime.
In August alone, the regime has invested hundreds of millions of FCFA (money that it does not even have) on a campaign to get Southern Cameroons parents to send their children back to school. The whole exercise seems to have failed. Few will fail to notice that the local population in Southern Cameroons now feels that the Ambazonia Restoration Forces have booted the French Cameroun army out of town. Every Southern Cameroonian now believes it is safe to come out against Biya.
Also, the West has placed the regime in some kind of economic sanctions. German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel recently stopped all military cooperation with Yaoundé. The Americans took a more radical approach by not only ending a very lucrative military deal with Biya but also pulled out all US servicemen and women from the North region that were stationed there to help in combating the Nigerian Islamic sect Boko Haram.
For their part, the Swiss ordered President Biya to leave their country and they are now in support of regime change as a goal towards ending the numerous crises that have rocked the Cameroonian nation. The Dutch and the Belgians have all withdrawn financial aid to the Yaoundé regime. Our senior political correspondent in Paris, France noted that the French are hoping that the Biya regime will collapse as soon as possible.
Again, these events prove nothing definitive. They are, at most, signs, signals, tokens of shifts in the game of perceptions and the correlation of forces. For, if the signs do point to a real trend, and not just random coincidence, they might indicate that Biya’s regime will implode very soon.
Surely with Biya’s acolytes dying like flies name them: Martin Belinga Eboutou, Sadou Hayatou, General James Tataw and his allies shifting into neutral, neutrals relishing his downfall, and local foes moving into open opposition mean something. These shifts, along with divisions in the military, might be enough to convince Biya or those around him that the game is up, that there’s no way out, and that their best-case scenario is for Mister Paul Biya to resign.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai