Cameroonian President Paul Biya is observing his 41-year tenure as the leader of the central African nation on Monday, November 6. Last year, a large gathering took place in Yaoundé capital to mark the occasion, even though the president himself did not attend the event. Paul Biya, a former Prime Minister, assumed the reins of Cameroon’s leadership on November 6, 1982, succeeding the country’s first president, Ahmadou Ahidjo.
Within the ruling Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People (RDPC), numerous voices have already called for President Biya to run in the 2025 presidential election, potentially securing an eighth, 7-year term. Nevertheless, critics of his administration donned black attire on Sunday, citing concerns over issues such as corruption, poor governance, and an ongoing struggle for succession.
Cameroon’s president, who celebrated his 90th birthday last February, currently holds the title of Africa’s second-longest-serving leader. Throughout his time in office, Cameroon has encountered various challenges, including a secessionist movement in the country’s English-speaking regions and a threat in the northern regions posed by Islamic extremists affiliated with the Nigeria-based Boko Haram group. Paul Biya’s last electoral victory was in 2018.
According to the Cameroonian constitution, in the event of a leadership vacancy due to death, resignation, or a declared permanent incapacity by the Constitutional Council, the President of the Senate, Marcel Niat Njifenji, would assume the role of Interim Head of State. Subsequently, he would be mandated to organize a new Head of State election within a period of 120 days.
The intense debate surrounding President Biya’s succession is largely driven by his age and the extended duration of his rule. As he approaches his 91st birthday next February and with an enduring 41-year tenure, well beyond typical term limits in most nations, many are of the belief that it is time for President Biya to retire. The discussions and deliberations concerning his successor have emerged from sincere concerns.
During a joint press conference held last year at the Unity Palace with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron, President Biya was asked about the succession issue. Known for his discretion and enigmatic responses, Biya stated, “The mandate that I am leading has a duration of seven years. When this mandate expires, you will be informed if I will stay or go to the village.”
Some of his supporters have called for an eighth term in 2025, but there are concerns that such advocacy could be viewed as a political fault or betrayal.