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New Year 2016: A Day of Communion At State House

paul-biya-recoit-voeux-2016The President of the Republic exchange New Year wishes with members of the diplomatic corps and the principal State corps and other non-governmental actors yesterday.

 Obviously a climate change phenomenon, Yaounde’s long dry days running already for more than one month, were beginning to introduce a feeling of unpleasantness, exacerbated by a situation of drinking water scarcity the dryness of its water pipes. So the many Ambassadors, representatives of international organizations, principal State dignitaries as well as other important non-governmental corps of the country could only have heaved a huge sigh of relief stepping down from their cars to see the gargantuan waterworks organized in the frontal gardens as they arrived for New Year wishes ceremony at State House yesterday morning.

The day’s event, broken into two parts with the diplomatic corps and national dignitaries, started with the former. A few minutes to the 11 AM deadline set for arrivals, the 6O-odd Ambassadors, Chargé d’Affaires and representatives of international organizations had been placed in a semi-circle in the second floor Ambassadors Hall of State House. As the President of the Republic entered the hall at exactly 11 AM, the new Dean of the diplomatic corps and Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon Monsignor Piero Pioppo took the floor to extend the wishes of the Yaounde diplomatic community to the Head of State and the people of Cameroon.

The Dean’s overall assessment of Cameroon in 2015 was highly positive and by his reckoning, Cameroon had maintained its established reputation as a haven of peace and stability. He said not even the bomb blasts begun in July by the Boko Haram were of a nature to question Cameroon’s peaceful posture. Rather, Cameroon was actively involved in seeking a lasting solution to the threat on peace posed by the reengage sect.

He praised President Paul Biya for spearheading several initiatives in this direction, citing in particular the sub-regional summit of Heads of State of the Economic Community of Central African State in February. Further praises were poured on the President for his role in the just-ended COP ’21 climate conference in Paris which ended with a long-awaited agreement.

The Dean said President Biya successfully argued for the need for the Lake Chad and the Congo Basin to be shown more concern. On the home front the spokesman for the diplomat acknowledged great strides in the country’s drive for progress, citing in particular, the opening of three new reference hospitals in Yaounde, Douala and Sangmelima in the course of 2015. He ended his statement with the wish to see the women’s national football team win the African Cup of Nations to be organized in Cameroon this year, after its brilliant performance at the World Female Football cup organized in Canada last year.

International Support

President Paul Biya responded to the Dean’s statement with an acknowledgment of the support Cameroon has received from many friendly countries in its fight against Boko Haram. Such a generous posture and, above all, the determination of national defence forces, made it impossible for Cameroon to lose even a centimeter of its territory, the President said. Rather, the sect had suffered serious setbacks, reason why it has turned to the tactics of bomb blasts against helpless citizens. (See President Biya’s full address elsewhere in this paper).

In attendance were close aides of the President, notably the Minister for External Relations Lejeune Mbella Mbella, the Minister-Secretary General at the Presidency Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh and the Minister-Director of the Civil Cabinet Martin Belinga Eboutou. After the speeches, the diplomats and the President went into a brief elbow-to-elbow session exchanging niceties over a drink and cookies before the President of the Republic headed for the reception hall of State House one floor below where members of the principal corps of the State, economic actors, trade unions, civil society representatives as well as traditional and religious leaders were already assembled. Once installed on a raised platform, the ceremony began with the Senate President and members of the Steering committee of the Senate taking the lead.

Then followed the National Assembly led by its Speaker and the Steering Committee then the government, the Economic and Social Council, the Supreme Court, the clergy, members of the armed forces, trade union leaders, representatives of the business world, leaders of political parties represented at the National Assembly …right down to the closest aides of the Head of State came up to wish the President well for 2016. The ceremony ended in generalized feasting over a lavish reception.

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