Cameroon lobby wants France to urge Biya to relinquish power

Cameroon's long-serving President Paul Biya. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

A Cameroon diaspora lobby group wants French President François Hollande to urge his long-serving Cameroonian counterpart Paul Biya to relinquish power.

Collectif des Organisations Démocratiques et Patriotiques de la Diaspora Camerounaise (CODE) put its demand in an open letter addressed to the French leader on Tuesday.

CODE was planning to stage a protest outside the gates of the Elysee Palace in Paris later today when the two leaders were scheduled to meet.

In their letter dated January 29, the group accused Mr Biya's government of bad governance, a flawed electoral system that locks out the opposition and rampant corruption.

According to the lobby, a majority of Cameroonians including members of the ruling party want Biya, who turns 80 on February 13 and has been in power since 1982, out of power.

Mr Biya left Cameroon on Monday for an official visit to France. He was to meet with French businesspeople and later with the French president.

Early this month, another group of Cameroonians living abroad sought to push a Swiss hotel, where Mr Biya was staying, to evict the president and his delegation.

The lobby calling itself Group of Cameroonian Patriots said President Biya and his wife Chantal, who had travelled to Switzerland for “a short private stay”, were squandering tax payers’ money in the Geneva hotel where a suite costs $1,200 a night.

Over the years, President Biya habitually spends long periods vacationing out of the country, accompanied by big entourages of up to 40 persons.

“For such a delegation, $48,500 would be spent every night”, the group noted.