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Paul Biya At The Frontline In Toulon

On board aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya took active part in the 70th commemorative anniversary of Allied Landing in Provence lon August 15, 2014.

The French naval flagship, Aircraft Carrier Charles-de-Gaulle provided the setting last Friday 15 August 2014 for the commemorative ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of Allied Landing in Provence. President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya were among the fifteen Heads of State present at the colourful ceremony.

At the frontline of the eight hundred personalities, at the platform of the aircraft carrier, President Paul Biya was prominent at the side of host President François Hollande, an indication of the role of Cameroon in the French equation in the African continent. The event proper began with the arrival of the twenty eight African delegations airlifted by military helicopters to the Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier. President François Hollande was on hand to welcome his august guests.

With the invited Heads of State in place, the ceremony began with the singing of the French national anthem, followed by a review of troops by the French President and his keynote address. François Hollande began his speech by an international note, calling on Russia to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and for the two Heads of State to do all that is necessary to reduce tensions.

He then recalled that the second act of the liberation of France took place at Toulon with the active support of the African contingent.  President Hollande stressed his gratitude to the sacrifices of the African Continent to the liberation of France and Europe. The speech ended with the singing of the Franch national anthem and the shaking of hands with invited Heads of State and veterans.

French Gratitude

Phase two of the ceremony at the Charles-de Gaulle aircraft carrier was the naval parade led by the fregate «Forbin». A total twenty ships took part in the naval parade, thirteen French, three American and others from Algeria, Tunisia, Britain and Morocco. The naval review was followed by an air parade. At the end of the military show and a group photograph, the Heads of State, heads of delegation and veterans were treated to a State dinner on the Aircraft Carrier.

The final event of the 70th anniversary ceremony was a display of fireworks. The keynote address by the French President clearly established the link between the African sacrifices in the liberation of France and the depth of relations between the two today. President François Hollande stressed the gratitude of France to Africa and listed actions taken to support the continent as it faces issues of security, health and development.

He also indicated the need to provide a human solution to the immigration nightmare across the Mediterranean. The gratitude of France to the black continent was a recurrent theme in the twenty minutes speech of the French President. Of the twenty eight delegations represented at the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, Cameroon was highly visible. Besides the presence of President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya, our national flag stood tall among the others at the platform of the French naval flagship.

Earlier in the day, the national segment of the commemorative ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of Allied landing in Provence began with a memorial at Mont Faron. There were other events in other communes of Var in the south of France. The event at Mont Faron assembled about three hundred French veterans. The international segment of the ceremonies later in the evening at the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle placed Africa on the frontline, stressing the historic links between the continent and France.

The underlying philosophy of the images of the 70th commemorative anniversary of the Allied landing at Provence is to give back to Africa what the continent gave to France during the Second World War. The mention of Boko Haram and other terrorist threats of that crew threatening the peace in Africa is an indication of the moral debt of France and Europe to show the goodwill of gratitude to the blood spilled by Africa to liberate France.

The ceremonies at the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle last Friday constitute a great moment of mutual pride and collective reminiscences between France and all countries whose citizens spilled blood to free France and Europe. Dubbed operation Dragoon, the landing in the South of France, liberated the entire country from the stranglehold of the Nazis, within four weeks.

It will be recalled that more than half of the French contingent in the operation Dragoon come from the African continent and the French President paid glowing homage to them last Friday in Toulon. President Paul Biya’s activities in France were not limited to the 70th anniversary commemoration ceremony. Less than twenty four hours of his arrival in Paris, precisely at three o’clock in the afternoon of last Thursday 14 August 2014, President Paul Biya received in audience, the French Defence Minister, Jean Yves le Drian at his residence at Hotel le Meurice.

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