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    President Paul Biya clocks 85 years old today, with 35 years in power, Reflections:

    President Paul Biya, who is celebrating his 85th birthday today, continues to project himself to the helm of a state he has ruled for 35 years.

    "The Cameroon of tomorrow, which is being built before our eyes, will have little to do with yesterday's (...) It is both an opportunity and a challenge." said Paul Biya on Saturday in his National Youth Day speech.

    In Cameroon, in 2014, according to the latest available statistics, 75% of the population was under 25 years of age and had only known Paul Biya as president.

    Biya, who joined Etoudi's presidential palace in 1982, asked the youths on Youth Day to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming elections, including the presidential elections.

    He has not yet decided on his candidacy for a possible seventh term. His supporters present him as their natural candidate, while his detractors see in his age a motive enough to try to seek his succession.

    Biya has blocked access to key posts and institutions until the recent creation of the Constitutional Council in early February, composed of eleven members, largely from the presidential party- (CPDM). In particular, it must validate the results of the elections.

    The presidents of the National Assembly - Djibril Cavaye Yeguié, 74 years old, Marcel Niat Njifendi, 84 years old, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces - Rene Claude Meka, 79 years old,the director of the national oil company - Adolphe Moudiki, 79 years old, are all close to the head of state.

    A former Catholic seminarian and a student of Political Science in Paris, Biya has "put in place a device around him, which makes the system function around him," notes an observer.

    Paul Biya, who in fact retains a large control over a country where more than a third of the inhabitants live on less than 2 euros per day, is nevertheless often criticized from Cameroon for his repeated absences, often for several weeks, mainly in Switzerland.

    These absences have left questions over the years about the president's state of health. At the end of January, rumors ran on this one, presuming he was dead, they quickly were dismantled by an appearance on state television on Saturday.

    Paul Biya likes to keep the secret around him and his political agenda, leaving his ministers to communicate. If in the opinion of all, he has the sense of the formula, his appearances are as rare as scrutinized.

    However, jihadist incursions continue in the Far North while the security situation in the English-speaking regions is only getting worse. On Sunday, three gendarmes were killed there, in a crisis that gradually turned into a conflict of low intensity.

    The army - which defends itself - is accused by testimonies of inhabitants of abuses, while the attacks against the symbols of the State multiply by armed men claiming the "Ambazonia", the name of the independent State they intend to create.

    "With the troubles in the English-speaking regions and the persistent threat of Boko Haram, the 2018 elections will be a greater challenge than the previous ones," said Hans De Marie Heungoup, researcher at the International Crisis Group (ICG).

    See photos below of President Paul Biya with Presidents of France since he took power in 1982:
    Paul Biya and Francois Mitterand
    Paul Biya and Jacques Chirac
    Paul Biya and Nicholas Sarkozy

    Paul Biya and Francois Hollande
    Paul Biya and Emmanuel Macron

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    Item Reviewed: President Paul Biya clocks 85 years old today, with 35 years in power, Reflections: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: beta tinz
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