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Friday, August 31, 2018
Unlike other autocratic leaders in Africa who take a more "hands-on" leadership approach, Paul Biya – Cameroon’s the president for 36 years, is known for his "hands-off" style of rule. Like many Cameroonians, Affana notes that Biya uses public funds in the country with a high poverty rate to sustain a bureaucracy of 65 sycophantic ministers and state secretaries. He mostly governs by decree or with the help of laws rushed through a rubber-stamp parliament. In 2006 and 2009 alone, Biya spent a third of his time outside of the country. Most of his trips have been to Switzerland, where he has made himself at home in Geneva's five-star Intercontinental Hotel. His regular entourage includes his wife and up to 50 aides which estimates the total hotel bill and chartered jet costs at around $182 million (€156 million). By contrast, the average Cameroonian earns $1,400 annually
"When you're a president you have everything and everyone at your disposal and the resources to control," James Arrey, a professor at the University of Bamenda told DW. "Since you have everything, then you gain the loyalty of all that matters in the society. That's how Paul Biya has managed to lead the central African nation for more than three decades."
The Anglophones and Francophones alike complain about Biya’s leadership.
"He has been in power because people around him want to keep him for personal gains," says Jean Paul Brice Affana, a Bonn-based Cameroonian environmental activist.
The UN says 200 civilians have been killed in Anglophone regions since October 2017, while hundreds remain missing
• 3.3 million Cameroonians need urgent humanitarian assistance
• In the Far North Region, one out of every three people is facing emergency levels of food insecurity
• The unemployment rate was at 4.20 percent in 2017
• Cameroon is one of the most corrupt African countries, according to Transparency International
After World War One, the League of Nations divided Germany's colonial-era regions in Africa between the Allies — most of the land went to France and Britain. Most of Cameroon's went to France. A small portion went to Britain. After Cameroon gained independence in 1960, English speakers were given the choice of remaining part of Cameroon or joining its bigger neighbor, Nigeria — also a former British territory. They voted to stay with Cameroon but have since felt increasingly marginalized by the French-speaking government in Yaounde hundreds of miles away.
• At first, Anglophones peacefully raised their grievances - over the use of French in schools and courts
• A minority wanted an independent state, which they call "Ambazonia"
• The Yaounde government's violent response to protests in the Anglophone regions in late 2016 prompted many more to call for autonomy
• In September 2017, the Ambazonia Defense Council declared war on the Yaounde government
• On October 1, 2017, Anglophone separatists claimed two regions as the self-proclaimed republic of "Ambazonia"
It is hard to predict where Cameroon is headed. One thing is clear, however: Biya is almost sure to win the presidential election in October. "At home, regionally, and indeed internationally, Paul Biya is losing legitimacy on a daily basis, and rightfully so," Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of Vanguard Africa says.