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Cameroon: Does Franck Biya have his sights set on the presidency?

By Georges Dougueli
Posted on Wednesday, 5 May 2021 07:02

Cameroonian Franck Biya in Douala in 2011 © Victor Zebaze

Like in a presidential election, albeit too early, posters with the slogan ‘Franck for president!’ feature an official-looking photo of the ‘candidate’, smiling, against a blue backdrop. Is Franck Emmanuel Olivier Biya, 49, thinking about taking the reins from his father, President Paul Biya?

The Mouvement Citoyen des Franckistes pour la Paix et l’Unité du Cameroun – an obscure group behind this surprising and, to say the least, awkward campaign – seems absolutely sure that he is.

But why campaign four years before the next presidential election? Moreover, no presidential vacancy appears to be on the horizon and President Biya, 88, has shown no interest in leaving office before his term ends. As for the ‘Franckistes’, they made no comment when asked if their preferred leader supports the campaign.

Personal trademark

Franck did not comment either. Never one to justify or explain himself or even deny claims, he no doubt learned this from his father, whose tight-lipped ways have become a personal trademark; as though calculated silence were in itself a sign of authority and dignity.

Thus far, Franck has been careful not to disavow the group of activists. He did, however, allow his inner circle to deny any presidential aspirations. “He doesn’t know the people involved in the movement,” one of his friends says. “They acted on their own initiative. He isn’t connected to them in any way!”