by Catherine Nalule, co-founder of UAD (25th October 2018)

85 year old Cameroonian President, Paul Biya won his seventh term in office last week, marking his 36th year in presidential office. My only question is:

why are so many African leaders so power hungry?

This is not the first time we are seeing African leaders overstay their time in power. 76 year old Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. That is 39 years. Almost 4 decades! In Uganda, 74 year old President Yoweri Museveni has marked his 32nd year in office after being in power since 1986.

What are these old men still doing in office?

It was not until last year, that Africa started to see a real fall in from the strongmen of the confinement. In 2017 Yahya Jammeh, former President of The Gambia was finally kicked out after 22 years in power, succeeding to former Argos (a UK catalogue retailer) security guard, Adams Barrow. In the same year, José Eduardo dos Santos stepped down after a whopping 38 years in power. The controversial Robert Mugabe was also pushed out as parliament began impeachment proceedings to strip him of power and open the way for prosecution. He ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years stood as the world’s oldest leader, resigning at the age of 93 years old!

With Biya set to legally rule Cameroon until 2025, it seems he does not intend to step down until he takes his last breath. Described as a somewhat absent President, often taking monthly long trips abroad for “work purposes”, Biya has not done much to help his country in his last few terms of Presidency. In fact, many would report that he has brought more bad than good.

In recent years, it was reported that there has been somewhat of a genocide amongst the Anglophone population in Southern Cameroon which also happen to be Biya’s strongest opposition. There have been recordings and reports of indiscriminate killings, rapes of the people of this side of Cameroon with calls for a succession. It was also noted that although Biya sanctioned this violence, he also led it as most of the killings have been carried out by the Bataillon d’Intervention Rapide (BIR) which report directly to him.

It seems most leaders in Africa go to any length to remain in power. Not long ago were opposition MPs arrested, tortured and kept out of public eye in Uganda as another tactic for Museveni’s power to remain unchallenged.

What is in store for Cameroon is uncertain, but with the regional fighting continuing and no known successor to overtake from the rapidly ageing Biya, the country is at great risk of growing instability.