One of Africa’s longest serving heads of state, President Paul Biya of Cameroon marked 35 anniversary in power yesterday amidst calls for boycott of the event in the English-speaking regions of the country.
Largely described as an absentee landlord, the 84 years ascended to the helm on November 6, 1982 after serving seven years as prime minister.
Commemorative activities have been organised all over the country mostly by supporters of the governing Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) to mark the leader’s three-and-half decades reign which critics say is coated with sugary promises of democracy and the purging of corruption.
During the 34th anniversary last year, members of the ruling party called on the ailing president (also national chairman of the party) to be their candidate at the next presidential election.
Should the electoral calendar be respected, Cameroonians will go to the polls next year to vote a president. Legislative and municipal representatives will also be elected next year.
As at now, Mr Biya is third longest-ruling leader on the continent.
Africa’s longest serving president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been at the helm of tiny oil-rich Equatorial Guinea for 38years while the oldest serving head of state in the world, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, 93, has uninterruptedly ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in April 1980 (37years).
Others who have spent more than three decades in power include Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso who has been president of the Central African nation for 33 years (though not in one go), Yoweri Museveni who has been Ugandan president for 31years and King Mswati III of Swaziland who ascended to the throne of the tiny southern kingdom 31years ago.