Contrary to what usually happens every 14 July when Heads of state of former French colonies and friends of the French Republic are usually invited to the Elysee palace for the celebration, this time around French president, Francois Hollande did not only snub Paul Biya but made sure he did not step his feet on French soil, even on his own. It had earlier been disclosed that this year’s event would coincide with the centenary commemoration of the beginning of the First World War would be attended by 200 military men and 250 young people from around the world. In all, over 80 countries were invited to take part in the celebration. In central Africa however, Equatorial Guinea was not invited and observers have been quick to point out that it is because the country has no colonial links with France.
On the official list of countries invited were Chad, Gabon, Congo, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso .The French president said the celebrations were placed within the context of the 1st world war and the countries that were instrumental in the war campaign were also being recognized. Anglophone African countries, amongst them the Republic of South Africa were also invited. This brought the total number of African countries to 17.
However, Cameroon was not included. This has been interpreted by many to mean that the relations between Francois Hollande and Paul Biya are sour. Even though Cameroon did not fight on the side of the French, but rather for the Germans, the country was at the crossroads and lost some 6,000 soldiers and 10,000 civilians. This led to the creation of the condominium between Britain and France from 1916 to 1918.Even in the directorate of cooperation in the ministry of external relations were at a lost as to what was going on with the president Paul Biya .They said in principle, during such ceremonies, invitations are extended to heads of state. But that was not the case with Cameroon’s head of state who did not even send a delegation to the event.
The last time Biya was invited to the French National Day Celebrations date back to the Sarkozy era in 2010.As for Francois Hollande, he has moved from one understanding to the other with President Paul Biya. The last time this came to the limelight was during the summit in security in Nigeria .Before that, it was the Francophonie summit in the DR Congo, then the Economic Forum organized by Cameroon in France. Recently, it has been disclosed that given the dwindling relations between Cameroon and France, the recent Cameroon European Union accord which disfavours Cameroon is a move to please the French government.
It is based on this that observers are saying since Biya is no longer working in their favour, there is need for a pro- French president at Etoudi given that the appellation of France as Cameroon’s first trading partner is only on paper because after 50 years of partnership, there is nothing to show on the Cameroon side which has now turned to new partners like China and Turkey.
By Nyassah Julius