President Paul Biya,Friday January 6 received New Year wishes from members of the Diplomatic Corps and national dignitaries during a ceremony that took place at the Unity Palace.Even Friday’s Unity Palace event was heavily attended, the absence of leading opposition leader, John Fru Ndi, was very conspicuous.
Though it is not exactly clear why the National Chairman of the leading opposition party, whom we gathered was officially invited, boycotted the annual event, SDF sources who spoke to The Cameroon Journal Saturday on condition of anonymity said Fru Ndi’s absence was deliberate and was in protest against the unserious manner in which the Biya regime is handling genuine concerns raised by Anglophones.Our source said Fru Ndi was vehement that he could not afford to go to the Unity Palace to wine and dine at a time when his fellow Anglophones are suffering under the weight of gross injustices and marginalisation from the Yaounde regime.
In 2016, it would be recalled, Fru Ndi was amongst the several national dignitaries who showed up at the Unity Palace for a similar ceremony. Both President Paul Biya and the SDF Chieftain on the occasion discussed at length.Our reporter also contacted Fru Ndi yesterday to have him comment on the subject but he didn’t take his callon several attempts.
Friday’s ceremony as it unfolded
The ceremony to present New Year wishes to President Biya was in two parts. The President first received best wishes from Members of the Diplomatic Corps before later meeting with national dignitaries.It was Mgr. Piero Pioppo, the Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea who is also Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, who opened last Friday’s ceremony with an address presented to the Head of State.
Delivering his address in both English and French, the prelate commended Paul Biya and the People of Cameroon for their outstanding hospitality toward refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic while equally lauding the country’s remarkable stability.In response to the message delivered by the Apostolic Nuncio, President Biya observed that Mgr. Piero Pioppo’s appraisal was objective, and used his response to reiterate the need to protect what he described as “Cameroon’s unity in diversity.”While meeting with members of the national constituted bodies, Biya, besides the normal hand shakes, also engaged in brief chats with some state personalities.