Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paul Biya “Missing” After Africa-EU Summit

(NewsWatch Cameroon)--Gabon leader Ali Bongo Ondimba has since the end of the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels visited three other countries; Rwanda, France and the Ivory Coast. Back in home, he received his counterpart Mohamadou Issoufou of Niger on a friendly and working 48-hour visit.
Like Ali Bongo, Chadian President, Idriss Deby Itno has since the end of the summit paid an official visit to Angola where he and his colleague, Eduardo Dos Santos discussed bilateral relations between their countries. The Chadian president also addressed the Angolan parliament.
In the Equatorial Guinea, Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who also took part in the summit has been on the field visiting and inspecting work sites of some major projects in his country. He has also been busy receiving guests. Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo was one of them.
In Nigeria, the not-so-lucky bloke Goodluck Jonathan had long come back from the summit to knuckle down to his presidential stint being threatened by the tightly clenched fist of Boko Haram jihadists. Besides, Jonathan’s daughter, Faith Elizabeth Sakwe’s wedding that took place in Abuja Ecumenical Centre has been one of the preoccupations of the Nigerian president. He has also been busy thinking up strategies with members of his government to save Africa’s biggest economy from arguably the largest security threats on the continent.
Pauul Biya(R), chatting with Panza on sidelines of summit
And in the war-torn Central African Republic, transition president, Catherine Samba-Panza had long regained her base in Bangui where she has continued with shrill calls on her compatriots to inter the hatchet of a blood-spattered acrimonious sectarian divide that has plagued the country for the past one year. She has also been busy implementing counsels she got from the summit on how to make that diamond-rich but seemingly cursed country peaceful. In November 2013 it was suspended from the Kimberly Process, a scheme that governs international trade in diamonds.
But in neighboring Cameroon, two weeks after after the summit, citizens are not aware of the whereabouts of their president who left the country on April 1 for the same summit like the aforementioned presidents.
On the sidelines of the summit, Biya received the Central African Republic’s transition leader. At the end of their meeting, Catherine Samba-Panza told the press that Paul Biya asked to meet her in order to have real information on the situation in the war torn country and on how Cameroon can be of help to haul the country out of the crisis it is mired in.
Panza said they have to ensure that Central African Republic citizens who have fled the country as a result of the crisis come back and contribute to the development of their homeland.
Cameroon is host to more than 160,000 CAR refugees who have fled their country following different waves of violence since 2004. This must be a preoccupying situation to both Paul Biya and Samba Panza.
Many Cameroonians expected President Paul Biya to quickly rush back after the summit to Yaoundé where hot files are said to be smouldering on his table.
Since the September 30, 2013 twin elections, Cameroonians have been expecting Biya to reshuffle his government. The post-election government has been delayed and this is just one of the issues Biya would have to handle whenever he returns.
Also, while the president was in Brussels, the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso told parliamentarians in a plenary session at the lower house of parliament that over 100 case files hinging on graft have been transferred to the Special Criminal Court. Paul Biya is also expected to come back home and give a nod for the arrest of suspected corrupt government officials.
Though many Cameroonians are worried about the whereabouts of the president, others say it is not a surprise that Mr Biya is ‘missing.’ It is not the first time the octogenarian is ‘missing’ after an official visit to Europe.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde

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