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Editorial Comment: Cameroon Constantly Consulted

The key role of Cameroon in world politics was once more evident at the just-ended 15th Summit of the International Organisation of La Fancophonie (IOF) which held in Dakar, Senegal from 29-30 November 2014.

Apart from the active presence of President Paul Biya who took the voice of the country through an address that highlighted the importance of international solidarity to tackle current threats to world peace, there were also varied moves by other leaders to get Cameroon’s position on strategic bilateral and multi-lateral issues.

Since its creation in 1997, the IOF has often had summits that attracted Cameroon’s participation, but the Dakar session appeared different to Mr Biya in several ways. For instance, the election of Egyptian-born Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who was succeeded by Abdou Diouf in 2002, hardly attracted much discussions like that of Michaëlle Jean did last 30 November 2014.

Without delving into the informal contacts that the Head of State had at the summit, the audiences he had with some world leaders could speak volumes for Cameroon’s diplomacy. French President, Farnçois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper on Sunday 30 November at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Centre and the President of Niger, Mohamadou Issoufou on Saturday 29 November, all point to the fact that the views of the Head of State on certain world preoccupations are preponderant.

Even if nothing filtered out of the talks that the Head of State had during the audiences, a number of indicators stand out in terms of some conclusions of the summit. For instance, the consensus finally reached on the candidature of Michaëlle Jean, the Haitian-born Canadian as new Secretary General of the IOF, must have reasonably preoccupied President Paul Biya and the Canadian Prime Minister. In addition, Canada, like Cameroon, has been facing an upsurge in fundamentalism, thereby obliging both countries to reinforce bilateral collaboration, a value which President Biya reiterated in his speech at the summit urging members not to elude the subject. 

With a multitude of candidates from Africa for the post of Secretary General of the IOF like former Burundian President, Pierre Buyoya, Congolese writer, Henri Lopes, former Prime Minister of Mauritius, Jean-Claude de l’Estrac and the former Equato-Guinean Minister, Augustin Nze Mfumu, one could also figure out the topic encroaching into discussions between President Biya and his French counterpart, François Hollande.

Further more, the successive release of French hostages in Cameroon by the Boko Haram sect, thanks to the astuteness of the Cameroon Head of State, the situation in the Central African Republic where Cameroonian and French forces were actively involved before Cameroon took over the command of United Nations forces in the country and other meetings that both leaders have attended, required follow-up, thus the Dakar rendez-vous handy for them. 

For instance, the 17 May 2014 Paris Summit looked for ways to tackle increasing Boko Haram attacks requiring the holding of follow-up defence mechanisms after other meetings in Niger and Nigeria that Presidents   Hollande could have wanted to know how his Cameroonian counterpart sees the situation on the ground. This is part of efforts by the international community to assist Cameroon and Nigeria against Boko Haram.

Niger has not only been witnessing similar threats to insecurity like Cameroon from the Boko Haram insurgency, but has been putting in place measures to stem the tides as well. Thus, meeting with President Biya in Dakar, the Niger leader could not miss the occasion to concert with Mr Biya on the way out of the grips of the sect, especially looking at recent achievements by Cameroon in pushing back Boko Haram.

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