Anxious wait in Cameroon for president’s speech

There is a feeling of anxiety in Cameroon ahead of a presidential address this evening.

This is no surprise, as President Paul Biya rarely speaks to the nation outside of the traditional New Year’s address and the National Youth Day on 11 February.

Last week, local newspapers reported that a speech was set for the weekend but it did not happen.

An official letter announcing Tuesday’s speech has been shared on social media

People have been speculating about the likely focus of the speech, but Mr Biya has a reputation of being unpredictable in the subjects and contents of his addresses.

Many think the president could grant amnesty to Ambazonia separatist leaders who were recently jailed for life for pushing for independence of the Anglophone north-west and south-west regions.

They also say that Mr Biya may end the trial of opposition leader Maurice Kamto, who was charged with insurrection in January.

Others expect him to make a major announcement about the conflict that has ravaged the English-speaking regions since 2016.

His prime minster has been vocal about an impending dialogue with separatists to resolve a crisis that has claimed hundreds of lives and forced more than 500,000 people from their homes.

Some observers say that, with the annual UN General Assembly set to kick-off in a week’s time, Mr Biya might use his speech to show that he is actively seeking a solution to end the Anglophone crisis.

Others will also wait to see if he announces a date for the legislative and municipal elections which he has already postponed twice.

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