Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cameroon: President fires PM and defense minister

Cameroon's President Paul Biya has fired his prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle. He replaced Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni with Philemon Yang, a senior official in the presidential office.

President Biya also changed nine other ministers in the cabinet, including the defense minister. The top defense post was given to former police Chief Edgar-Alain Mebe Ngo'o.

No reason was given for the cabinet changes.

Journalist Roland Akong, news manager for the University of Yaounde II Campus Radio II said many Cameroonians believe the cabinet reshuffle is long overdue.

"The cabinet reshuffle that took place yesterday is coming one year after wide speculation by many Cameroonians," he said.

Akong said Cameroonians are asking many questions as to the motive of President Biya's cabinet changes.

"Many Cameroonians are asking the following questions: Is it because of a snap presidential election which has been rumored to take place next year, is it because the head of state intends to continue the fight against corruption, or is it because the president intends to cover up media attacks that he has acquired ill-gotten wealth out of the country," Akong said.

He said fired Prime Minister Inoni had been coming under media scrutiny for some time about his involvement in a corruption scandal.

"Media reports have been accusing the PM of being involved in the Albatross Scandal. The Albatross scandal is the embezzlement of state funds for the acquisition of a plane for the presidential family. It is widely believed that this is the reason why he was removed," he said.

Akong said the defense minister might have been fired because of a statement he made after the robbery of two banks in the southwestern Cameroon city of Limbe.

"Last year, pirates attacked two banks in Limbe and robbed several billions Franc CFA. And the defense minister declared over the BBC that he was informed of the incident but never took any measure. And since then the head of state seized the passport of the defense minister," Akong song.

He said President Biya, who has ruled Cameroon for 27years is expected to stand for re-election after he modified the constitution and lifted presidential term limit.

Published with the permission of Voice of America
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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