Africa

Cameroon profile - leaders

  • 16 January 2015
  • From the section Africa

President: Paul Biya

Cameroon President Paul Biya speaks to journalists following a meeting with his French counterpart at the Elysee Palace on 30 January 2013 in Paris.
Paul Biya has been leader for three decades

In power since 1982, Paul Biya is seen as one of Africa's most entrenched leaders.

Cameroon's parliament in April 2008 passed a controversial amendment to the constitution enabling President Paul Biya to run for a third term of office in 2011.

The veteran politician went on to win a new seven-year term in the October 2011 election, in a vote that international observers said was marred by irregularities.

Mr Biya's opponents rejected the result - which gave him a landslide 78% of the vote - and alleged widespread fraud. Civil society movements accused Mr Biya of having locked down the electoral system to guarantee his return to power.

When Mr Biya first became president in 1982, it was within the context of a single-party system. He accepted the introduction of multi-party politics in the early 1990s and went on to win the 1992 presidential election by a narrow margin.

In the 1997 presidential election, which was boycotted by the main opposition parties, he was re-elected with more than 92% of the vote. At the next election, in 2004, he officially took more than 70% of the vote, though opposition parties alleged widespread fraud.

His party, the Cameroonian People's Democratic Movement (RDPC) has won landslide majorities in every legislative election since 1992.

Before becoming president, Mr Biya spent his entire political career in the service of President Ahmadou Ahidjo, becoming prime minister in 1975.

With Mr Ahidjo's resignation in 1982, he assumed the leadership and set about replacing his predecessor's northern allies with fellow southerners.

In 1983 he accused Mr Ahidjo of organising a coup against him, forcing the former president to flee the country.

Born in 1933, Paul Biya was educated in Cameroon and France, where he studied law at the Sorbonne.

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