INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY H.E. PAUL BIYA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON, ON THE OCCASION OF THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY

 The President of the National Assembly,
 The First-Vice President of the Senate,
 The President of the Constitutional Council,
 The First President of the Supreme Court,
 Honourable Members of the Senate,
 Honourable Members of the National Assembly,
 Ladies and Gentlemen,
 Dear Compatriots,
Allow me, first of all, to thank the President of the National Assembly for
his words of welcome and his encouragement as I begin this new term of
office.
I also wish, before you, once again, to thank the Cameroonian people
for having renewed their trust in me. Such trust will represent an invaluable
support to me in the discharge of the weighty responsibilities awaiting me in
the years ahead.
The oath I have just taken “before the people”, in accordance with the
provisions of Article 7 of our Constitution, in the presence of their
representatives, is of a highly symbolic significance on two counts:
– it is an expression of absolute loyalty to the institutions of the
Republic from which I cannot derogate; and
– it is an irrevocable personal commitment to performing the duties of
Head of State as set forth in our Constitution.

2
As in the past, these principles will guide my action in serving the
Cameroonian people during the seven-year term of “Great Opportunities”
beginning today.
 Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before outlining our prospects, I would like us to take a quick look back
so that we can take stock of the present situation.
The seven-year term that has just ended was not a bed of roses.
Security wise, we first had to deal with repeated attacks by the terrorist
group, Boko Haram, which spread terror and desolation in the far-north of our
country. Together with our neighbours, and with the help of our traditional
partners, we responded strongly. Our defence and security forces, to whom I
once more pay tribute, chased the enemy out of our borders. The situation is
now stable, but we remain vigilant and determined.
Then, in the North-West and South-West Regions, negative forces
thought they could take advantage of socio-professional grievances to try to
roll out a secessionist agenda. This was followed by successive acts of
terrorist violence to which the Government responded by taking the necessary
measures to ensure public law and order, as well the safety of people and
their property.
It is obvious that the secessionist ambition undermines our Constitution
which establishes the “indivisible” nature of our Republic.
On the other hand, our population’s repeated desire to be more closely
involved in the management of their local affairs prompted us to take
necessary measures to fast-track the decentralization process.
These priority tasks did not distract us from the need to work towards
improving our economy, adversely impacted by the global economic and
financial crisis, as well as falling commodity prices.
To that end, we continued implementing our structural reforms and
taking measures to improve our fiscal situation. Our “resilience” was hailed by
the IMF with which we concluded, in 2017, an economic and financial 3
programme backed by an “extended credit facility”. It is clear that these efforts
account for our progressive return to growth.
At the same time, while ensuring the sustainability of our external debt,
we gave a fresh impetus to our major infrastructure projects regarding power
generation, drinking water supply and road construction. This is evident in the
many achievements recorded.
Despite the adverse economic situation, many projects were initiated in
the health, education and social services sectors. Unquestionably,
considerable progress has been achieved in this regard.
Furthermore, we pursued efforts to complete the building of our
institutional and democratic edifice with the effective setting up of the Senate
and the Constitutional Council.
Against all odds, we have, thus, stayed the course towards emergence.
This quick review, which is far from exhaustive, clearly shows that our
country is undergoing transformation and that it is resolutely set on the path of
progress.
 Ladies and Gentlemen,
Overall, during the seven-year term which is starting, we will strive to
consolidate our achievements, while exploring new avenues that will enable
us to make use of all the opportunities offered by an ever-changing world.
In this light, we will naturally pursue our structural reforms to
consolidate our fiscal balance and bolster our debt sustainability. A healthy
financial situation is a sine qua non for economic and, hence, investment
attractiveness.
In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to ongoing changes
taking place on the world scene and which are bound to have an impact on
our country.
The decades-old rules which have governed globalization of trade are
being challenged. Indeed, protectionist and even isolationist tendencies are 4
gaining ground. These trends portray the obvious risk of a destabilizing effect
on many countries, particularly developing countries like ours. We will
increasingly suffer the effects of climate change which will impact the lives of
our fellow citizens, notably rural dwellers.
In this regard, I think it is worthwhile for us to strive to develop the
sectors of our economy that could significantly reduce our imports of goods
and services. Such policy will have the advantage of enabling us to balance
our chronic trade deficit.
Moreover, we will stage a veritable “agricultural revolution” by
modernizing our production tools and further processing our agricultural
products. This should be accompanied by the acquisition of new equipment
and the construction of warehouses and access roads. Our status as
breadbasket of Central Africa could thus be consolidated.
There can be no modern economy without an efficient industrial sector.
We have an Industrialization Master Plan that presents the outline and
content of a major project in this area. Its implementation will be among the
priority tasks to be performed during the seven-year term.
Industry and agriculture require stable and sufficient power supply. We
have been making significant efforts in this sector for some time now. The
hydropower dams and plants that we have constructed should enable us,
sooner or later, to fully meet the demands of our economy and our
population’s energy needs.
However, we will not stop at that. We will continue to exploit all the
available sites and rivers in order to transform Cameroon into a major
electricity producer on our continent. We will also pay attention to rural areas
by progressively providing them with solar energy plants.
Similarly, we will continue to develop our transport infrastructure (roads,
ports, airports) to boost our economy and facilitate communication with our
neighbours.

5
Bearing in mind that the ultimate goal of democracy is to provide the
greatest number of people with the best living conditions possible and real
equal opportunities, I will continue to devote all my efforts to:
– fostering economic growth that creates jobs, particularly for youths,
and which can increase purchasing power;
– promoting the role of women in our society;
– facilitating the social integration of youths by further developing our
educational system at all levels and focusing on professionalization;
– fighting against exclusion, notably by providing better protection to
persons with disabilities;
– improving access to public drinking water and electricity utilities;
– enhancing our health system by building new hospitals and finalizing
an efficient social security system;
– developing a worthwhile social housing policy;
– developing our cultural heritage;
– and, lastly, providing the sports sector with the support that it
deserves, in the hope that the efforts that we have made to host
AFCON 2019 will be rightly rewarded.
 Ladies and Gentlemen,
The major challenges that must be met to ensure the emergence of our
economy, which I have mentioned, and the commitments that I have made to
improve the quality of life for Cameroonians, require, first of all, the creation of
conditions conducive to stability and security. Rest assured that I will see to it
that it so happens.
The goal of achieving emergence must become a major national cause
rallying all our fellow citizens in order transform Cameroon into a modern and
socially advanced country.
Public servants and private sector workers have a vital role to play in
this regard. I am aware of their difficulties. I will take the necessary measures
to improve their working conditions, in order to enable them contribute more
to our country’s progress.

6
Before concluding, I want to stress that I deeply reflected over the
frustrations and aspirations of the vast majority of our compatriots in the
North-West and South-West Regions. A good number of these concerns and
aspirations will be addressed as part of current efforts to accelerate the
decentralization process. Measures will be taken as soon as possible to
broaden the powers of local authorities in order to provide them with the
means for greater autonomy.
Bilingualism and multiculturalism will continue to be promoted by the
commission set up to that end.
These actions and others will be undertaken to resolve the many
problems that are at the root of the frustrations and dissatisfaction that have
been expressed in recent times. It is our hope that this will restore calm that is
indispensable for a return to normalcy and usual economic activity. I am
deeply convinced that the overwhelming majority of our compatriots in the two
regions concerned aspire to a rapid return to peace within the national
community.
Unfortunately, as a result of the threats that the secessionists keep
brandishing in this part of our country, many of them were unable to exercise
their right to vote during the recent presidential election and thereby express
their attachment to our national unity. I call on them not to lose hope and to
lend all possible support to the action of the authorities aimed at restoring
peace. They know, better than anyone, what their life would be like under the
yoke of extremists who have been spreading terror and desolation in their
regions for some months now.
These war-mongers who are jeopardizing our national unity and
preaching secession should know that they will face not only the full force of
the law, but also the determination of our defence and security forces. I am
calling on them to lay down their arms and get back on the right track. I am
appealing particularly to youths who got involved in a futile adventure.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the destiny of our compatriots in the
North-West and South-West lies within our Republic. With the support of the
Cameroonian people as a whole and convinced that there is an honourable
way out in everyone’s interest, I will strive to restore peace and calm in the 7
two regions concerned, with due respect for the institutions of which I am
guarantor.
Turning to my young compatriots now, I would like to ask you not to
lose hope. I have understood your deep aspiration for change that will open
the door to the future and enable your complete personal fulfilment. I have
also understood your desire for greater participation in taking decisions that
concern the destiny of our country. I will take this into account bearing in mind
that tomorrow’s Cameroon will be built with your input.
By staying united and proud of its democratic, economic and social
advances, our country will confidently embrace progress and modernity.
That is why, here and now, I am calling on the Cameroonian people,
who I know to be patriotic, to help me to continue the task of nation-building in
peace.
Long-live the Republic!
Long-live Cameroon!

Elvis Teke

Journalist, Online Reporter, News Presenter, Programme Anchor, Peace Advocate, Geo-strategist,

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