Cameroonian pro-democracy activists in the Diaspora have urged the French President, François Hollande to ask Biya to step down from power after 30 years of reign.
The Association of Democratic and Patriotic Cameroonians in the Diaspora, popularly known by its French acronym as CODE, made the appeal in a strongly worded correspondence sent to President Hollande on January 29. The letter was a somewhat change of strategy by the Cameroonian pro-democracy activists that had earlier planned to receive President Biya with violent demonstrations in Paris last Monday.
President Biya, who is currently on a working visit to France, is being described by the activists as a sit-tight dictator who has stalled democratic transition in Cameroon for three decades by way of election rigging and the sustenance of poor governance characterized by corruption.
The activists forwarded the correspondence to François Hollande ahead of his tête-à-tête with Biya at the Elysée Palace on January 30. In the letter, the activists reminded Hollande that in July 2009, when he was still in the opposition, he accepted to dialogue with them (activists).
CODE holds that Hollande made the promise when they were demonstrating in front of the Bourbon Palace which is the seat of the French National Assembly. They recalled that what fired them into action that day, was the personalisation and the confiscation of power by Biya through electoral fraud. They claimed that they were irked by the upsurge of human rights abuses, corruption, poor governance and the mortgaging of the future of the Cameroonian people.
The letter partly reads, “Conscious of the fact that their future is first of all in their hands, the Cameroonian people are soliciting help from France”. They appealed to Hollande to advise Biya to quit the stage or set new conditions for relations with him. The activists said any further relations between Hollande and Biya must be hinged on prerequisites that border on the organisation of truly democratic elections by a non partisan institution- not ELECAM.
To the activists, the Biya regime should be called upon to respect human rights and fundamental liberties. They hold that the only other option will be for Hollande to advise Biya, 80, to resign after 30 years of misrule at the helm of the state of Cameroon.
Meanwhile, Biya and his entourage received a shabby treatment from the French authorities when they touched down at the Orly Airport in Paris last Monday. He was received by very low-profile officials. It was the Cameroonian Ambassador to France, Mbella Mbella Le Jeune and the French Ambassador to Cameroon, Bruno Gain that received President Biya and his delegation. Even the representative of the French President that was sent to receive him, observers hold, is not up to the rank of a Secretary of State.
The press was awash with reports that Biya was received by a Messenger (planton) in France.
Some Cameroonians in France expressed disappointment that it was not only Biya that was disgraced but the entire Cameroonian nation. But the second adviser at the French Embassy in Yaounde has dismissed observations that Biya received a shabby reception in Paris.
The French language daily, Mutations, quoted Laurent Thousard as saying that the kind of reception given Biya at the Orly Airport is equal to the status of his visit. He said the French President would have come out to receive President Biya at the airport if it were an official or State visit. However, political pundits hold that the shabby reception is shows the contempt with which Hollande’s party, the French Socialist, holds Biya.
After meeting with Hollande last Wednesday, President Biya was expected to chair a Franco-Cameroonian business forum on January 31. Both parties were expected to discuss and fine-tune the economic and commercial relations between the two countries. After Nigeria, France is the main source of imports for Cameroon. France equally calls the shots as Cameroon’s colonial master.
France remains one of the main reliable partners giving development aid to Cameroon, especially when it comes to the French Debt Relief and Development Contract, CD2. Huge amounts from this program have been used to realize many development projects in Cameroon.
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