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Boko Haram Finally Decides French President’s Cameroon Visit 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

French President, Francois Hollande, will visit Cameroon in the coming months.
The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Laurent Fabius, revealed the information on Radio France International, RFI, last Monday.

According to Laurent Fabius, it is President Hollande that wishes to pay an official visit to Cameroon soon and not the other way round. He said the wish is normal, given that Hollande has not visited Cameroon since he came to power. If President Hollande finally visits Cameroon, it will be a U-turn, observers say, from the contemptuous manner in which he has treated the Yaounde regime in the past few years.

For one thing, President Hollande came to power after the re-election of Paul Biya in 2011. Apparently carrying the anti-African sit-tighter policy of his predecessor, Nicholas Sarkozy, Hollande, somewhat treated Biya with contempt and prejudice as one of Africa’s eternal dictators. The circumstances under which Biya succeeded himself at the helm of the state, militated for such prejudice.

He emerged after a controversial poll that was reportedly adulterated by widespread irregularities and rigging. The crux of the matter, pundits hold, was the controversial amendment of the Constitution in 2008, which gave Biya the leeway to hang on to power.

When President Biya visited France in 2013, Hollande gave him a very cold reception. On his arrival in Paris, the all powerful President of Cameroon was received by a low level official whose rank was only equal to that of a Secretary of State. Since then, President Hollande has visited many African countries, including Chad, and ignored Cameroon. If President Hollande finally visits Cameroon, it will be some kind of divorce from the Sarkozy anti-Biya policy. Among the successive French Presidents that called the shots after the emergence of the fifth Republic, Sarkozy stands tall as the odd figure. He is the only one who ended his mandate without visiting Yaounde.
When Hollande came to power, France’s relation with Cameroon was laced by love-hate ambivalence that often degenerated to mutual suspicion. Such a situation continued to fuel a whirlwind of allegations that France was out to destabilise Cameroon and get rid of the Biya regime. Talk was rife that France was angry with Biya for more often choosing to do business with China and other countries at its expense.

Credit To Laurent Fabius
Diplomatic pundits hold that the man who has redeemed relations between Yaounde and Paris is the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, who was in Yaounde last weekend. He might have struck a deal of an eventual Hollande-Biya reconciliation when he met with Cameroon’s octogenarian President at the Unity Palace last Saturday. Political analysts hold that it was incumbent on Hollande to soften his heart towards Biya, given the personal involvement of Cameroon’s President in the release of French hostages kidnapped by Boko Haram in the Far North Region.

When the Moulin-Fournier family was released, the French Foreign Affairs Minister personally came to Cameroon to thank President Biya. It was still Fabius, who told Cameroonians last week that France is still a true friend of Cameroon.

He dismissed allegations that France was backing Boko Haram and promised that his country will help Cameroon, Chad and Niger to crush the terrorist group. However, France will not be sending its soldiers to fight the terrorists like it did in Northern Mali. But, Fabius said the military intelligence and training they would be providing are very determining factors in the Fight against the sect.

The Minister said, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, France will campaign for other members to pass a resolution in favour of the fight against Boko Haram. France, Fabius told reporters in Yaounde, will cancel part of Cameroon’s debt to enable the country carry out some development projects. He said France was looking forward to advocating for the funding of the onslaught against Boko Haram in a conference of donors soon.

The French Minister rained insults on Boko Haram, qualifying them as a gang of hoodlums whose only objective was to kill innocent souls and cause suffering.

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