Cameroon: Nabil Njoya, the Bamouns’ sultan, joins Paul Biya’s CPDM

By Franck Foute
Posted on Monday, 7 March 2022 09:20

Nabil Njoya at his inauguration on 11 October 2021. © SAABI/ANADOLU AGENCY/Anadolu Agency/AFP

For the first time, Nabil Njoya, the Bamouns’ new sultan, appeared alongside the presidential party’s leaders. This event may end up rekindling political tensions in Cameroon.

As a former civil administrator, Nabil Mbombo Njoya had to remain politically neutral – until he was appointed as Sultan of Foumban. On 25 February, the traditional leader of the Bamoun people put an end to this rule by helping to install the offices of the sub-sections of the Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais (RDPC) in his palace’s precincts. By doing so, the young sultan publicly displayed his support for the ruling party.

Delayed by five months due to the death of the previous Sultan of the Bamouns, Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya, the ceremony took place in one of the reception rooms of the royal palace in Foumban. The CPDM members were then received by Njoya before being presented to the royal court. The event ended with a photo session during which the Sultan posed with activists dressed in party colours.

The message to the Bamoun people is unambiguous. Despite a fringe of the population calling for the Sultan to remain politically neutral in order to preserve the country’s unity, Njoya chose to perpetuate his sultanate’s tradition of remaining close to the government in Yaoundé.

Paul Biya’s envoy

The Sultan of Bamouns had pledged his commitment to the CPDM two weeks earlier, on 10 February, when President Paul Biya sent Jean Nukuete to Foumban. The secretary-general of the party’s central committee met with Njoya for several hours to convince him to make this vow, just like his father Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya had done.

Rivalries in the kingdom

This alliance with the central government dates back to 1933 and was sealed by Sultan Seidou Njimoluh Njoya. A decision was made to move closer to the central government, then exercised by the French colonial administration, in an effort to ease tensions after Ibrahim Njoya died under house arrest in Yaoundé.

Following his death, Mbombo Njoya continued this relationship. He even became friends with President Biya and ran for mayor of Foumban under the CPDM banner in 1997. He was defeated by his cousin Adamou Ndam Njoya, leader of the Union Démocratique du Cameroun (UDC). At the time of his death, Mbombo Njoya was one of the baobabs of the country’s ruling party.

Since returning to a multi-party system in 1992, the Bamoun kingdom has been riven by deep political divisions between RPDC and UDC activists, now led by another family member, Tomaino Ndam Njoya. Although Nabil Njoya had not demonstrated any political affiliation at his inauguration, people had hoped that he would put an end to these rivalries. These battles are likely to start up again, now that he has displayed his support for the CPDM.

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