WHO HANDED A LETTER TO PAUL BIYA?
By Celestin Ngoa Balla, US Africa News. Updated 2014-08-14
On leaving Washington on Friday, where he came to participate in the first US-Africa summit, Paul Biya was bringing back something other than the documents from the White House work and handshakes with politicians and businessmen. Cameroon's president also left with an envelope which was handed to him by an individual in his hotel lobby on his way to work with Obama and the rest of African leaders. "Everything happened in front of the American bodyguards and Cameroon security services. Without hesitation or panic, the Head of State took the letter that was offered to him and immediately passed it to one of his entourage," said a diplomatic source who requested anonymity. But who is the man who delivered the letter to Biya? At this point, no diplomatic sources in either Washington or New York have provided his identity. "It's definitely somebody who was on the guest list for the proceedings but had not met with Biya, so he found another way to reach the President," our diplomatic source further indicated.
Could it have been Patrice Nouma? The defrocked military man has been openly criticizing the regime in Yaoundé and diplomatic personnel stationed in New York and Washington since the beginning of this year. In one of his recent videos, Nouma, who had written a letter asking Barack Obama to strike Biya from his list of invitees, announced his wish to be received by Biya during his stay in Washington. He was seen in front of the hotel where Paul Biya was staying, but remained uncharacteristically silent until the Cameroonian President left Washington. "He is not silent for nothing," said a diplomat who did not hide his concern. Our source continued that the letter could be from "any of these Cameroonians who came to demonstrate for or against the regime, or perhaps a junior staff member in one of the embassies.”
But the most worry is that what might be in the letter given to Biya. Although if it comes to denunciations, the President’s desk has a pile of notes put together by experts assessing all the problems going on in the host country, the situations in embassies, etc. "Before even getting on the plane to Washington, he was already aware of everything that is happening here in embassies and the community," says one diplomat. Our source, to show that Biya was notified of everything, indicated that, as President of the Republic, it was the civilian cabinet which exclusively handled all the expenses of the Cameroonian delegation at the Summit. Normally, expenses for the stay of the Cameroonian delegation in Washington would be transferred as funds to the embassy. But the US Embassy of Cameroon has not had a bank account for about five years. "A grand dysfunction caused the head of state travel with money in cash, which is not normal," our source noted.
Coming to Washington, Biya was also aware of the poisonous atmosphere prevailing among the embassy staff. In 2011, the new Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, arrived here, in urgency, to extinguish the fire that was burning between some employees who had just been recalled to Yaoundé and who refused to move, and their superiors. The incident was perhaps the first failure of Yang as head of government. Nobody yielded on returning to Yaoundé, where the thought of facing Operation Épervier [the Cameroon government’s anti-corruption initiative] gives them cold sweats. More so, since Ambassador Gérôme Mendouga was thrown into Kodengui Prison, where one can rightly find the sponsors of most members of the diplomatic corps in Washington. The new Ambassador, Foe Atangana, made the recruitment of support staff on site, and Yaoundé sent a wave of diplomats. Currently, the Embassy of Cameroon in Washington has a large workforce. Result: a huge payroll for people who are not always at their post. And the money to pay the salaries of locally recruited staff has just run out. Since the issue of allocations is back on the table, everyone among the diplomatic corps is like a lapdog. There is a war here between those claiming to be the "old regime" and others claiming the "new regime." Those who have been in Washington for more than ten years are asking those arrived since 2011 to head back to Yaoundé. And vice versa. Where the Prime Minister failed, will Paul Biya will swoop in and restore order?
Maybe in multiple visits, Biya will get to see the rehabilitation of the abandoned embassy site. Initially a duration was given of two years for this repair work. Two or three years have been added to this initial deadline, without work having started on the site. Yet credible sources indicate that Yaoundé long ago received the entire budget to safely carry out the repair work. This smells of diversion of funds; an exercise already very popular in this house. And why not ask whether the ambassador of Cameroon in Washington and many of his asssociates are in trouble?" Management in the embassy in Washington is truly calamitous, and even someone without Biya’s temperament would not return home without knocking some heads," offered our diplomatic source, who is betting that a tsunami is underway.