Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

28 January 2013

Cameroon: Hilarious Welcome for Presidential Couple in Paris

Hundreds of Cameroonians in the diaspora thronged the Orly Airport in Paris yesterday evening, to demonstrate their loyalty and esteem to President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya.

French authorities and the Cameroonian community in Paris were on hand a few hours ahead of the arrival in Paris of the plane transporting President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya from Yaounde - Nsimalen to Orly Airport yesterday 28 January 2013. By the time the Presidential Couple emerged from the bowels of the private jet at 17h25, the French Republican Guards, the Cameroon Ambassador to France, Lejeune Mbella Mbella and the French ambassador to Cameroon, Bruno Gain were on hand to welcome them for a walk through the red carpet into the hall for a series of handshakes. Phase two of the welcome ceremony was reserved for the hundreds of Cameroonians in the diaspora who thronged the Orly Airport with banners and effigies of the Presidential Couple. Patriotic chants, clapping and singing of praises in honour of the First Couple, characterized their expression of support and loyalty to their leader. President Paul Biya walked the long distance to meet and appreciate the patriotic gestures of the huge number of Cameroonians who braved the harsh weather to honour their leader. The President and wife Chantal Biya were later led by escorts in a convoy to their Paris residence of the Hotel Le Meurice.

Loyalty and Esteem

The arrival of the Presidential Couple yesterday evening at the Orly Airport in Paris once more provided Cameroonians in the diaspora an opportunity to demonstrate their attachment and loyalty to their country and leader. Hundreds of Cameroonians thronged the airport vicinity enveloped in patriotic paraphernalia to welcome President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya to France. In song and dance, they expressed their unalloyed adhesion to the political and economic programme of President Paul Biya. They brandished banners expressing total support for the peaceful march towards prosperity and the emergence of Cameroon. The heavy presence of CPDM militants among the diaspora present at the Orly Airport is an indication of the quantum leap in the numerical strength of members of that political formation in France. On the eve of the arrival in France of the Presidential Couple, Cameroonians in the diaspora apparently kept aside their political affiliations to mobilize as sons and daughters of one nation to celebrate the values of peace and political hope. It was a demonstration of their unequivocal commitment to the virtue of tolerance constantly repeated in the speeches of their leader, President Paul Biya. The diaspora that thronged the Orly Airport stood up like one man yesterday, to welcome their leader, the highly revered Captain of the Cameroon boat sailing smoothly, overcoming all obstacles to position itself among the nations that aspire to emerge by 2035.

Significance

A working visit to a friendly country carries with it positive sign posts of mutual benefits to equal partners. The political significance of the working visit of President Paul Biya, in response to an invitation by his French counterpart underlines the rich and fruitful relations between the two nations. As the first visit to France following his re-election at the helm of Cameroon and the first meeting in French territory with newly elected President, François Hollande, this working visit of President Paul Biya takes added significance after the initial meeting in Kinshasa. This second tête-à-tête taking place at the seat of French political power (the Elysée Palace) carries added substance, form, and depth. Its symbolism is in harmony with the status of the two Statesmen and the geo-political interest imbedded in Cameroon-France relations.

As an island of stability, a thriving democratic dispensation, booming economic indices and an ongoing vigorous campaign against corruption, Cameroon has all it takes to be a role model on the international scene. In order to express opinions in Cameroon, it is not necessary to go underground, to live in exile or to abandon families. President Paul Biya's working visit to Paris therefore comes within this background of enormous political, economic and social achievements in Cameroon. The Nation that stands tall in the centre of Africa and a revered Statesman, who is a sterling reference of political savvy in the African continent, remains an asset in this period of world history.

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