The President of the Republic of Cameroon, Paul Biya, has just faced a major setback as the Swiss government turns down his request for him to be accompanied to Switzerland by heavily armed Cameroon uniformed officers.
A source at the Presidency of the Republic has hinted Cameroon Concord News Group that Cameroon government officials are very disappointed with the Swiss government’s response to Mr. Biya’s request.
“There is total sadness today at the presidency. The Swiss have rejected President Biya’s request for heavily armed soldiers to accompany him to Switzerland where he is expected to undergo treatment,” our source at the Unity Palace which elected anonymity said.
“The Swiss are open to Mr. Biya heading to Geneva for treatment, but they are reluctant to let heavily armed Cameroon soldiers on their territory given that the country’s Diaspora is prepared to sow chaos in the Swiss city if Mr. Biya goes there for health care,” the source stressed.
Our source also said that Mr. Biya and his team were contemplating going to Saudi Arabia given that the Swiss government cannot guarantee that Cameroon’s Diaspora will not disrupt the 86-year-old’s health care programme in Switzerland.
The Saudi are willing to welcome Mr. Biya and his large entourage but are not comfortable with the idea that Mr. Biya should be in their country with armed officials who may be trigger-happy.
It should be pointed out that Mr. Biya and his government have become very unpopular in Western capitals, especially as many Cameroonians living abroad are prepared to give the government a very bad name.
Over the last three years, Cameroon has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The Southern Cameroons crisis which has caught the international community’s attention has eroded the country’s reputation as an Island of peace in a desert of chaos.
But it is the arrest and detention of opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, that has really angered the country’s Diaspora and created an opportunity for Southern Cameroonians and the Francophone Diaspora to collaborate so as to destabilize the country.
Even the international community, led by the United States, is gradually expressing its indignation at the gross human rights violations in the country.
With people power revolutions spreading across the continent, it is becoming obvious that Cameroon might be the next destination. Algerians have succeeded to unseat their 82-year-old dictator while Sudanese have taken to the streets to kick out Oumar El-Bechir who is considered as one of the most brutal dictators on the African continent.
“Cameroon is certainly in the eye of the storm,” a source in Yaounde said, adding that “ there is no way our country can avoid the chaos that is playing out in Algeria and Sudan, except the country’s authorities change their ways. The international community is sick and tired of seeing a man who has ruled his country for 36 years and has no results to show for his long stay in power.”
“Cameroonian authorities are watching what is playing out in Algeria and Sudan very closely. They are living in fear, especially as the Southern Cameroons crisis has revealed a lot about the regime. Francophones are gradually understanding that with the same people in power, their country’s political and economic woes might not be over anytime soon,” the source which is close to the country’s military said.
The fear is increasing, especially as Southern Cameroonian politicians have begun breaking ranks. Recently, Chief Victor Mukete, the Paramount Chief of the Bafaws in the South West region and the oldest member of the country’s senate, called on the government to stop playing with an issue that might split up the country.
Mr. Mukete, who is a staunch member of the ruling party, expressed his anger with the regime, urging law-makers to consider extensive decentralization as an option that might bring peace to the country.
The changing rhetoric is keeping the government awake. However, Southern Cameroonian leaders who are calling for the total liberation and independence of Southern Cameroons have tagged Mr. Mukete’s outburst as ‘the government’s diabolic attempt to test the waters as its crackdown is failing’.
Many Southern Cameroonian activists have called on their followers not to take Mr. Mukete seriously, adding that his call for the issue to be addressed comes too late as many people have been killed and thousands displaced.
“102-year-old Mukete should not be taken seriously. He is a buffoon who is simply seeking attention. He has aided and abetted the Yaounde regime in its reckless killing of our people and he wants to be a hero now. He clearly belongs to the past, indeed to the grave. He is done feathering his family nest and now needs forgiveness from the people. He will not get that. He will carry his guilt to his grave. We are going to fight to the end. We will not accept anything short of total independence,” a frustrated Southern Cameroonian in Yaounde said.
The coming days will be very critical to the country and if care is not taken, Cameroon might be the theater of public demonstrations like those taking place in Algeria and Sudan.
The telltale signs of frustration are already there as on Tuesday, supporters of jailed opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, defied the military and held a demonstration for the release of their leader.
Similarly, Mr. Kamto and his fellow detainees refused to go to court on Tuesday, stating that they would not be legitimizing the charade that is being organized by the aging Yaounde government.
The country is faced with many issues and from every indication, it looks more like a ticking time bomb that might go off very soon if it is not defused through appeasement and dialogue.
By Linda Embi and Kingsley Betek in Cameroon