Oct 22 2011

Paul Biya, scourge of Cameroon, “wins” another election

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 12:04 PM

Cameroon’s Supreme Court declared Paul Biya as the winner of the Oct 9 presidential poll. Biya, who is 78, will serve a sixth seven-year term as president of this West African country.

Effectively a dictator, Biya has run Cameroon as a personal fiefdom since the early 1980s. He pushed through a change in the constution a few years ago that permited him to seek another term.

The official poll gave Biya 78 percent of the vote, a tally that defies belief if not the imagination of the shadowy cartel that surrounds Biya the man. The election pitted 22 candidates against Biya, who for decades has adroitly exploited tensions within his country to divide his critics. Biya is believed, for instance, to pay people to run against him for president — the more, the merrier, it seems — in order to make legitimate opposition candidates less able to muster diverse support.

Cameroon is among the most beautiful countries in the sub-Saharan. The country has a powerful agriculture sector as well as diverse natural resources. Biya runs the government in a highly casual manner, earning the nickname, “the ghost,” in part because he is believed to spend relatively little time in the country.

International donors have scant leverage over Cameroon’s government. France continues to limit pressure from reformers who would seek to end Biya’s tenure. French-owned companies control wide swathes of Cameroon’s economy, dominating cotton production (in the north) and cement production in the south. The country also hosts the longest oil pipeline in the region, bringing crude from Chad to the Cameroonian port of Kribi.

A potential bright star of Africa, Cameroon instead languishes. the victim of Biya’s persistence and a perverse set of economic factors that reward both domestic and multinational capitalists for policies that insure the stagnation of social conditions in the country. While ill health has often led to speculation that Biya’s days as the country’s president are numbered, he continues to defy expectations of a deserved exit. That he officially received another term in office in the same week of Ghaddafi’s death is a reminder that, at least in lovely Cameroon, home to West Africa’s highest mountain and most haunting plateaus, there is only winter.

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