As Cameroon reels in the wake of the abduction by armed separatists of at least 79 students and three staff members from a Presbyterian school in the troubled English-speaking region of Cameroon, it will be business as usual on the political front with the swearing-in of president-elect Paul Biya on Tuesday.
On Monday, the final leg of preparations for the president’s swearing-in were underway at the National Assembly, Cameroon Online reported. According to the Constitutional Council, Biya, 85, won the presidential poll in October.
The ruling party, Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), is mobilising members and sympathisers to honour the official ceremony in a “special way”, said Jean Nkuete, secretary-general of the party.
Biya, from Cameroon’s south, has been head of state since 1982 when he took over following the resignation of Ahmadou Ahidjo who was in power since independence in 1960.
Under Ahidjo, Biya worked as a bureaucrat in the 1960s, serving as secretary-general of the presidency from 1968 to 1975, and then as prime minister of Cameroon from 1975 to 1982.
Since taking office he has ruled virtually by decree since before eliminating constitutional term limits in 2008 which allowed him to run again. The move sparked riots in which some 40 people were killed.
And after Tuesday's formalities are over, the president will continue to face the problem of English-speaking separatists wanting to cede and establish the new state of Ambazonia, claiming they suffer discrimination at the hands of the Francophone government.
Peaceful protests last year turned violent after a brutal crackdown by Cameroonian security forces on protesters led to numerous deaths, the enforcement of stringent curfews, and the mass arrest of political opponents.
The insurgents subsequently stepped up their attacks, hitting back with a number of deadly attacks on security forces as the bloody stalemate continues.
On Sunday night, the students, aged between 11-17 and the three staff members were abducted from a school in Nkwen, near the regional capital of Bamenda in Cameroon's south, by suspected separatist militants.