Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, on Wednesday, February 13, 2018, celebrated his 85th birthday with very expensive cakes, even as the country and its economy continue their onward march to the bottom of the abyss. The Yaoundé strong man cut the huge cake in the presence of his wife while onlookers at the presidency cheered him on.
Mr. Biya who has been declared either critically sick or dead used the occasion to prove that he was still hale and hearty, and was still in command of things in the country. The 85 – year-old dictator has been allowing his actions to shut up his critics who have been saying that he was either on life support or dead.
The dictator’s birthday has been celebrated with pump and pageantry at a time when the country is dealing with Boko Haram insurgency in the north, rebels in the east and Southern Cameroons separatists in the country’s English-speaking regions.
However, opponents of the dictator point out that the picture used to support the assertion that Mr. Biya celebrated his birthday was photo-shopped, arguing that Mr. Biya and his government are used to manipulating Cameroonians.
It should be recalled that the crisis in the country’s English-speaking regions has lasted for about 15 months despite government efforts to impose peace in the region.
Since October 2016 when the crisis started, more than 500 civilians have been killed, several villages torched by retaliating soldiers, and some 300 uniformed officers have been sent to an early grave.
Despite numerous calls by the international community for inclusive dialogue, Mr. Biya and his government have insisted on using military violence as their tool of choice to end the rebellion.
But their methods have only radicalized most Southern Cameroonian s and spurred the various armed groups into intensifying their attacks on soldiers and Gendarmes as a means of self-defense.
By Kingsley Betek in Yaounde