Bulldozers raze makeshift market stalls and buildings Monday morning in Tongolo, a neighborhood in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde.
Among the several hundred stall owners is Julio Evina.
Evina says it is regrettable that officials are destroying businesses along some major streets in the capital Yaounde and rendering families hungry simply because French President Emmanuel Macron will be visiting Cameroon. He says if not for Macron’s visit, he is certain that the government would not have filled potholes that have been causing accidents on roads in Yaounde.
France says Macron will discuss the food crisis in Africa provoked in part by Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as the challenges in increasing agriculture production in Africa and an upsurge in insecurity.
Cameroon faces Boko Haram terrorism that has killed over 30,000 people and displaced two million within 10 years in its northern border with Chad and Nigeria. The central African state also faces separatist conflicts that have killed at least 3,300 people and displaced more than 750,000 in 5 years according to the U.N.
Capo Daniel is the deputy defense chief of the Ambazonia Defense Forces, or the ADF, one of the separatist groups. He says the ADF hopes Macron will ask Biya to end the use of force as a solution to the separatist crisis in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions.
“One of our factions in our liberation movement called for lockdown as a means to protest Emmanuel Macrons visit, but other movements will be watching this event with the hope that Emmanuel Macron will be pushing Paul Biya to choose the path of peaceful resolution of the war.”
Politicians and civil society groups say they will discuss with Macron the possibility of a peaceful transition in Cameroon. Eighty-nine-year-old President Paul Biya has been in power for close to 40 years and critics accuse him of rigging elections to prolong his power until he dies. The government says he has always won democratic elections.
France says after Cameroon, Macron will visit Benin and Guinea Bissau.
Ejani Leornard Kulu, a political scientist and an analyst at the U.N.-sponsored University for Peace Africa Program in Addis Ababa, says Macron is expected to review his country’s economic, political and security ties with Africa. Kulu adds that African countries that have agreements with France are now seeking profitable partnerships with other world economies.
“We saw the president of the African Union and the African Commission going to Russia to see how cereals will not be blocked for Africans to have food. If we take the case of Cameroon signing a defense treaty with Russia, Cameroon surrendering mines exploitation to China, questions French positioning and even gives a sentiment of anti-French. So, France wants to reposition itself against other partners like China, like Russia.”
The government of France says Macron is accompanied by the French ministers of foreign affairs, armed forces and foreign relations, as well as the French secretary of state for development.