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Vol 37 No 16

Published 2nd August 1996


Biya good boy

More tactician than playboy, the President has a talent for confusing his opponents

Paul Biya's glamorous young wife, Francesco Smalto suits and frequent private trips to Europe may suggest a political playboy. Yet the President is a considerable tactician and has already negotiated two major crises: the April 1984 army putsch and the presidential election drama of October 1992. Many international observers (especially from the United States) still believe that John Fru Ndi's Social Democratic Front really won the 1992 elections; those doubts have haunted Biya over the past four years. He has relied on political backing from Paris and support from the French Treasury. That link will be strained by parliamentary and presidential elections due next year. Standing among his fellow heads of state at the Organisation of African Unity summit in Yaoundé on 8-10 July, he said he does not plan to quit soon but accepts that next year's elections will be difficult.

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