Paul Biya makes first public appearance in two months
Cameroonian president, Paul Biya, made a televised address on the eve of national day, Tuesday, May 19th 2020, after over two months of silence on the ongoing coronavirus crisis ravaging the country.
The 87-year old Paul Biya, in his speech said that just like most countries in the international community, Cameroon is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic and the continuous rise in the number of confirmed cases affirms the complexity and difficulty involved in the fight against the pandemic.
He also went on to insist on full compliance to the safety measures as instructed by the government such as the compulsory wearing of masks. He further urged the people not to give in to fear, panic or false information.
The last time he spoke to the nation was on the 5th of March which preceded the country’s record of 529 cases and 140 deaths on Wednesday 3rd March. The West African country has been hit harder by the virus than most sub-Saharan African countries.
Due to his prolonged silence, speculations of Biya’s death went viral on the internet towards April ending and the government issued a denial of it. However, Cameroonians have become accustomed to his prolonged absences through out his 37years in power and this is due to the president’s poor health.
As expected, there have been numerous questions and opinions arising from his long silence over the pandemic especially as he is a leader who has overseen many crises since he took power in 1982. For his supporters, the silence was seen as a sign of strength while critics have expressed it to be failure
The silence became a basis for his opposition to question his rule as Maurice Kamto, the opposition leader and his runner-up in the 2018 elections, launched proceedings for the Constitutional Council to declare the presidency vacant.
In response to the opposition’s activities as regards the pandemic, six opposition activists were arrested last week in Cameroon for “illegally” distributing face masks and disinfectant gel. They were all identified to be supporters of Kamto, whose initiative to gather funds to fight the virus has been banned by the government. The six arrested were released after five days.
Every country undergoing the pandemic needs a present and active government as this would go a long way in helping citizens respond positively and cooperate with government efforts to ending the spread of the virus in the country.
Hopefully, the Cameroonian government is able to put productive strategies in place, alongside an actionable plan in responding to the effects of the pandemic.
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