While he has just celebrated his 89th birthday, Paul Biya is becoming more and more discreet in the media or in politics. Does the Cameroonian president still want to be at the head of his country?
Last Sunday, Cameroonian President Paul Biya celebrated his 89th birthday. For this occasion, the Head of State celebrated the event, surrounded by members of his family and handpicked guests. With a few photos that leaked to the press, Biya's birthday allowed for a well-oiled communication operation. It must be said that the state of health of the Cameroonian president continues to fuel rumours, with many Cameroonians wondering if Paul Biya is still capable of holding the reins of the country.
A month before the famous anniversary, Paul Biya wanted to mark his presence. On January 9, the African Cup of Nations opened in Cameroon. And while he had gotten used to being represented by other leaders or personalities, Biya had finally decided to go to the presidential stand at the Olembé stadium. Of course, it was an event.
Less than ten political meetings in 2021
A few weeks later, Biya presided over the closing ceremony, even though he refused to come down from the podium for the trophy presentation. Beyond these appearances placed under the sign of football and an address to the nation, during which the Cameroonian president congratulated himself on the "clear success" of the CAN, which, he explained, "honored not only Cameroon, but also all of Africa”, Paul Biya now risks returning to a calmer life, far from cameras, cameras… and politics.
Because in reality, Paul Biya spends little time in the offices of the Palace of Unity, the presidential palace of Yaoundé. Indeed, the Cameroonian head of state prefers to spend time in his native village of Mvomeka'a, in the south of the country. It is from there that he lets out, in dribs and drabs, a few photographs showing him very often surrounded by his family, and particularly his son Franck and his wife Chantal. The two parents of the Cameroonian head of state, far from being disinterested, are engaged in a cold war for the succession.
But what about the current affairs of the country? At 89, Paul Biya now seems to live like a retiree. And if the Cameroonian press, won over to the cause of the power in place, does not hesitate to congratulate itself that the Head of State is still, at his age, "straight as an I" and that he does not resort "nor a cane or crutches, even less a walker", it is clear that Biya no longer has the energy of yesteryear to manage public affairs.
The calm after the CAN?
The figures speak for themselves: in 2021, the Cameroonian president received, apart from foreign ambassadors, only a few dozen political figures, according to the Africa Intelligence count. To these visits are added those of a dozen foreign diplomats, such as the French ambassador, Christophe Guilhou, who met Paul Biya twice.
CAN 2021 obliges, Paul Biya tried, last year, to be a little more active. He indeed received Patrice Motsepe, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), at the end of last December. The African Cup of Nations over, Biya will probably have even less desire to receive foreign dignitaries or collaborators in 2022. It now remains to be seen how the 89-year-old president will manage his last years in power: the presidential election n t is, for the moment, only scheduled for 2025. And besides, there is even talk of Paul Biya returning, despite his virtual disappearance from the political radar.