Cameroon’s President Paul Biya addressed the people on Tuesday for the first time in two months since the coronavirus crisis began in the central African country, reported Africa News.
The last time he spoke to the nation was on March 5. He posed for the cameras after talks with the United States ambassador on March 11 and again after meeting the French envoy.
“Like most countries in the world, Cameroon is suffering from COVID-19,” Biya said in a televised address on state channel CRTV. “The number of people infected rises day after day, bringing proof that the fight against the pandemic is complex and difficult.”
The Cameroon president went on to urge the people to respect measures taken by the government that includes the obligatory wearing of masks. He also asked them not to panic and not to believe false information put out on social networks. He called on Cameroonians to promote national unity in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cameroon had counted by Wednesday 3,529 coronavirus cases so far including 140 deaths and has been hit harder by the virus than most sub-Saharan African countries.
Speculation about Biya’s death spread like fire on the internet in late April and the government was moved to issue a denial. In Biya’s 37 years in power, Cameroonians have become accustomed to his long absences, due to his poor health.
The Cameroon president’s silence over the pandemic raised numerous questions for a leader who has overseen many crises since he took power in 1982. The opposition question also questioned about his role due to his subsequent absence from public view.
Main opposition leader Maurice Kamto, the runner-up to Biya in 2018 elections, said he had launched proceedings for the Constitutional Council to declare the presidency vacant.
Notably, the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown forced Cameroonian President Biya to cancel the government’s planned feasts and parades to celebrate Cameroon’s annual Unity Day.