Yaounde, 10 September, 2023 – ACI Africa | The Cameroonian government has put in place the system of “divide and rule”, which makes attempts by the country’s military to overthrow President Paul Biya impossible, a Catholic peace entity has said, allaying fears of “a possible coup” in the Central African nation.
Following recent military coups in Africa, particularly the July 26 one in the West African nation of Niger that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum from power, and the one in the Central African nation of Gabon on August 30, which resulted in the ouster of President Ali Bongo from power, the 90-year-old Cameroonian President reportedly made significant changes in his military, reshuffling the country’s defense delegate to the presidency, the staff of the air force, the navy, and the police.
According to Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), which has presence in Cameroon, the Central African country’s citizens are calling for the forceful removal of President Biya who ascended to the presidency through a coup d’état in 1982.
According to the peace entity of the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), Cameroonians are congratulating Gabon and have “unanimously called on the military leaders of Cameroon to follow suit.”
A coup in Cameroon, DHPI says, may be an uphill task for the military who have been divided into various groups, and an animosity created among them.
“It must be noted that Paul Biya, who has been the ruler of Cameroon since 1982 had diversified the Armed Forces in the country as a preventive measure for a possible coup,” the peace entity says.
Having suffered a failed military coup in 1984, Biya is said to have wasted no time in creating many arms of the military. In this light, the country has the Gendarmerie, the Regular Army, the National Presidential Guard and the Rapid Intervention Brigade widely known by its French acronym as BIR.
“With this diversification of the Armed Forces, Biya has used the tactic of divide and rule as some arms of the military are given preferential treatment to the detriment of others, for example the BIR is supposedly the envy of the Armed Forces in Cameroon,” DHPI says.
The SACBC entity says the diversification of Cameroon’s Armed Forces, coupled with the recent adjustment in command of the top brass of Defense Sector “has canceled out any possibility of a military coup taking place in Cameroon any time soon.”
“Paul Biya will continue wielding power until a different strategy is devised to unseat him”, the Catholic peace entity reports, adding that President Biya’s early years in office had been “tarnished by tyranny and breaches of human rights.”
Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, Sudan, Niger and now Gabon have all faced the upheaval of military takeovers over the past three years, removing democratically elected presidents.