The news from Switzerland is not good for Cameroon in general and the ruling crime syndicate in particular. Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, is currently fighting for his life in a Swiss clinic where he had a delicate surgery to remove blood clots in his brain.
According to a source in Geneva, though the surgery went smoothly, the president and his medical team say the surgeons are worried, as the 88-year-old is still trapped in a long unsettling coma days after the operation was conducted.
The president’s entourage has been warned not to deliver any information on the president’s health and these instructions are seemingly being followed to the letter. However, keeping a secret is the most challenging thing and some members of the president’s encourage are already singing like magpies.
They are already briefing members of their political group to whom they owe allegiances. To get more information on the drama unfolding in Geneva, the Cameroon Concord News Group has moved its Paris correspondent to Geneva to work some of the Group’s sources.
It should be recalled that Mr. Biya has been home to multiple debilitating illnesses and at his age anything can happen. Biya has been playing host to diabetes, hypertension and a heart problem that have been huge concerns to his family and the ruling party.
While Swiss medical experts are worried about the dictator’s health, in Yaoundé the concerns are different.
The officials of the ruling party, the CPDM, are more concerned than Mr. Biya’s family. Many of them have been involved in many political and financial crimes and if the worst were to happen, they might not have the same protection that the Biya regime is affording them.
Various political groups have been meeting in Yaoundé to discuss in private about the president’s deteriorating health and the potential of chaos playing out in Cameroon if Mr. Biya were to kick the bucket.
Constitutionally, it is the Senate president, Marcel Niat Njifenji, who is supposed to take over in the event of a vacancy, but he himself is in worse shape than Biya, as his own multiple illnesses are already agreeing on when to put him out of his misery.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Cavaye Yegue Djibril, is therefore likely to take over in case Niat exits unceremoniously, although he too is suffering from a serious respiratory track problem and a heart problem due to decades of smoking and alcoholism.
The fear in Yaoundé is that Mr. Cavaye is from the north and the Betis who have run the economy and country aground are all trembling, fearing that if power goes back to the north, a lot of things will go awry for them.
Northerners have yet to forget about the genocide that visited them in 1984 after the April 6 coup and the northerners are really serious about having their pound of flesh.
A source at the Presidency of the Republic has said that there is panic all over the place. Even the Secretary General, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh is not given a minute-by-minute update on the president’s health and this is concerning to those loyal to the Secretary General whom they think should take the reins once things swing in the wrong direction for Mr. Biya.
The battle lines are becoming very visible. Ngoh Ngoh is leading a group of people who clearly want the constitution to be circumvented, while Mr. Niat, though a dying man, is carefully playing his cards.
He does not want those close to Biya to see him as being very ambitious, but he really wants to lay his hands on power. Many say he has a few bones to pick with some Betis who have challenged his authority and do not really consider him as the constitutional heir.
Meanwhile, another group is pushing Frank Biya to the fore to ensure that he takes power once he father dies. But this is not going down well with Chantal Biya, the country’s first lady, who has no regard for Frank.
Even the Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic is against Frank Biya but he is holding his cards so close to his chest. He knows politics is a dangerous game and tides could turn at anytime.
Ngoh Ngoh is Chantal Biya’s favorite but she is hamstrung by the constitution and the political awareness of the people of Cameroon. She understands that even France might not help to impose a president on Cameroonians as that might trigger massive political chaos in the country.
Cameroon’s future is as bleak as Mr. Biya’s chances of staging a spectacular recovery. The world is just watching and many observers fear that Cameroon might implode if Mr. Biya dies.
The clouds gathering over Cameroon are really dark. The Anglophone crisis has left the country on the brink of an implosion. Corruption and tribalism have pitted many tribes against the Betis who have dominated other tribes for 40 years and ruined the country’s once buoyant economy.
The days ahead could bring bad news to the country’s shores if Mr. Biya does not beat the odds. He must return to Yaoundé sooner rather than later if his Beti clan must continue to enjoy the protection he has offered them for the massive corruption they have orchestrated over the last four decades.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai