Cameroon’s President Paul Biya will run for re-election in October, he said on Friday, aiming to extend his 36-year rule and maintain his place on a shortening roster of long-standing African leaders.
Biya, who came to power in 1982 when his predecessor retired, is seeking a seventh term in office that could see the 85-year-old leader who has been in power since 1982, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.
Biya tweeted in French and in English “I am willing to respond positively to your overwhelming calls. I will stand as Your Candidate in the upcoming presidential election,”
Biya, who has ruled virtually by decree since taking office, scrapped term limits from the constitution in 2008, allowing him to run again. The election, scheduled on Oct. 7, comes at a turbulent time for the Central African country and for Biya.
The country is currently going through a period of strife sparked by calls for a breakaway state by residents of the English-speaking regions, who say they are discriminated against by the francophone majority.
Mr Biya’s government has responded with force, sparking deadly clashes with secessionist militias in the Anglophone North-West and South-West regions.
Born on February 13, 1933 in a village 220 kilometres (140 miles) south of the capital Yaounde, Biya studied law in France before landing a government job on his return home in 1962.
He was named prime minister in 1975, and took over from Cameroon’s founding president Amadou Ahidjo, who was ailing, in November 1982. The details surrounding this episode remain murky.
Biya was first elected in 1984. He allowed a multi-party system in the early 1990s, accepting political opposition from the west.