31 January 2013

Cameroon: Paul Biya Meets French Business Community Today

At 15h11 yesterday, the gates of the Elysée Palace were flung open to welcome President Paul Biya. After the military honours by the cavalry regiment of the French Republican Guards, he mounted the stairs to the warm handshake of a waiting François Hollande. The French President led his august guest into the inner chambers of the Elysée Palace (Salon Vert) for discussions accompanied by their close collaborators. After over forty minutes, the two Presidents emerged to bid each other farewell. The press that assembled at a safe distance at the right hand side of the Elysée Palace was not ready to let President Paul Biya go. In anticipation of the media demands for details of their discussions, President Paul Biya walked towards them, a gesture that is in harmony with his vision of diplomatic transparency. The questions rolled out and the answers were forthright, clear and precise. President Paul Biya started his series of answers by thanking the French leader for his hospitality. He characterized the relationship between Cameroon and France as good and excellent. On the main subjects of their discussions, he said maritime security, the situation in Mali and the Central Africa Republic featured on their menu adding that he once more expressed his gratitude to President François Hollande for his timely intervention in Mali. President Paul Biya also added that with Cameroon in the process of modernization, their discussion touched on the participation of the French business community in the economic growth of the nation.

In response to a question in his longevity in power, the President said no one is in power by force in Cameroon. Democratic elections that are free and fair remain the only method of holding elective office. On the issue of human rights, the President responded that Cameroon does not have a problem of human rights violation. Press freedom with a multiplicity of media organs free of any form of censorship holds sway in the nation. He stressed the existence of a modern democratic dispensation in Cameroon, with the rule of law and no political prisoners. In response to the question on the imprisonment of Thierry Michel Atangana he clearly stated that the judicial procedure is ongoing. After being condemned by a lower court for embezzlement of public funds, Thierry Atangana has appealed to the Supreme Court and the separation of powers that gives absolute freedom to the judiciary requires that justice be allowed to take its course without any form of contradiction.

On the questions of laws on homosexuality, the President quoted the Cameroon penal provisions that existed even before he came to power, making it punishable by the courts. The questions on the diaspora and on regional integration also came up. President Paul Biya expressed gratitude to the diaspora and added that regional integration was progressing gradually with roads linking Cameroon to Chad, Congo, RCA and others. He added that a newly created CEMAC Airlines was a step further in ensuring complete regional integration.

In the question and answer session with the media at the Elysée Palace, President Paul Biya showed absolute mastery of the subjects and left no one in doubt as to his resolve to pursue transparent governance. He was not in a hurry to take his leave from the journalists and stayed until all the questions were exhausted. At the end of the exercise, the press corps present at the Elysée Palace yesterday 30 January 2013, came out completely satisfied with the answers given by President Paul Biya to all their questions.

Phase two of the Working Visit of President Paul Biya to France rumbles into action today. Said to be a Cameroon - France forum, the principal theme is pegged on a lasting economic partnership between the two countries. The forum will kick off this morning at 8h30 with a welcome speech by Michel Roussin, Vice President of MEDEF International. The next personality on the podium will be Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi the Cameroon Minister of the Economy, Plan and Regional Development. He will lecture his audience on the political and economic priorities of Cameroon. A debate will follow this exposé before the creation of two workshops for further debates and discussions. The second section of this economic phase will be cantered on the Head of State, expected to arrive at 11h30 and received by Michel Roussin. A meeting between the two will precede the entrance of the President into the hall for the deliberations. A speech by President Paul Biya will be followed by possible questions from some members of the French business community. A cocktail ends this segment of the economic phase that will be followed shortly afterwards by a press briefing and eventual discussions between the French business community and Cameroon authorities.

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