Ahmadou Ahidjo's family wants him reburied in Cameroon

Germaine Ahidjo, the widow of Cameroon's founding president, says it is government's duty to bring home body of her late husband. BISONG ETAHOBEN | AFRICA REVIEW 

Wednesday marked the day 22nd anniversary of the death of Cameroon’s first president Ahmadou Ahidjo.

Ever since, attempts at negotiating the return of his remains from Senegal, where he died, have not worked out.

The former president’s family blames the man he handpicked to succeed him – President Paul Biya.

According to the late president’s son, Mr Mohamadou Badjika Ahidjo, “it is government which must take the initiative to repatriate the remains of the former president and we are available as a family to collaborate in the effort”.

“I think the initiative should come from the state.”

The former president’s widow, Mrs Germaine Ahidjo, concurs.

President Biya does not think so. In a 2007 interview granted in France, he declared: “The problem of the repatriation of the remains of the former president is, according to me, a family one.

“If the family of my predecessor decides to transfer the remains of President Ahidjo, it is a decision that depends only on them. I don’t have any objection or observation to make.”

Hopes of a pleasant end to the saga were rekindled on March 30, 2008 when President Ahidjo’s friend and former Benin leader Emile Zinzou paid Biya a visit.

There was speculation that Mr Zinzou had come to negotiate the return of Mr Ahidjo’s remains. But nothing came out on the issue.

In March 2010, Cameroon’s national media published a story alleging that a special adviser to the president, Mr Martin Belinga Eboutou, had been dispatched to the Senegalese capital to discuss the possible repatriation of the remains with President Abdoulaye Wade.

The story was dismissed by President Biya’s office with the statement that; “Mr Belinga Eboutou has never travelled to Dakar for such a mission”.

Every time Ahidjo’s anniversary comes up, the matter of his reburial at home arises. But Mr Dajika told the Africa Review the government had never contacted the family on the issue.

If Biya’s intention was to make the memory of his predecessor fade away, he seems to be succeeding.

During the recent presidential election campaigns, only one candidate, Mr Ben Muna of the Alliance of Progressive Forces (APF), mentioned the founding president’s name and promised to repatriate his remains if he were elected.

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