YAOUNDE. – Cameroon’s 89-year-old president, Paul Biya, on Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of his rise to power amid splashy ceremonies where the word on everyone’s mind — succession — will almost certainly be absent.
The Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (RDPC), which Biya founded in 1985, says it will hold “a big party” up and down the country to mark the anniversary.
The festivities will celebrate “political stability and peace — the biggest successes of these last four decades in Cameroon,” said Herve Emmanuel Nkom, a member of the party’s central committee.
At the RDPC’s headquarters in Messa district, a couple of dozen party members were busy selling caps, scarves, shirts and multi-coloured garments emblazoned with Biya’s face.
“Lots of people come by and look — we get a lot of orders,” said Sylvie Beyala, 42, a party member for 20 years, next to a photo of a beaming Biya and the slogan “Unity, Progress, Democracy.”
The crowning event on Sunday will be a “regional mega-rally” in front of city hall in Yaounde, the capital, but no word has emerged as to whether Biya himself will attend.
Biya rose to the top job on November 6 1982 after seven years as prime minister.
He is only the second president in Cameroon’s history since the central African nation gained independence from France. He is also the continent’s longest-serving leader after Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who has been at helm since 1979. – AFP