The video Cameroon’s presidency doesn’t want you to see

Frazer, Biya, & Marquardt
Image via WikipediaBy Peggy Bruguière, FRANCE24 journalist.
A video of Paul Biya, Abdoulaye Wade and Téodoro Obiang Nguema during  the Africa-European Union summit.A video has emerged online in which Cameroon’s president Paul Biya is overheard bringing up the embezzlement charges currently being investigated by a French court with his Senegalese and Equatorial Guinean counterparts.

The video was first posted online by the president’s office, but rapidly modified to cover up Biya’s words.

The scene takes place in Tripoli (Libya) on Sunday, November 28th, during the Africa-European Union summit. The video shows president Biya waiting for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with Senegalese president Abdulaye Wade and Equatorial Guinean president Téodoro Obiang Nguema. The three men are making small talk away from the cameras. Their conversation is barely audible above the sound the whine of cameras as photographers shoot pictures. Paul Biya is apparently complaining about the media’s – particularly the French media’s – harsh and biased coverage of the embezzlement charges made against him.
On November 25th, a French court opened a preliminary investigation after the UDA, an association of Cameroon expatriates in France and Belgium, filed a complaint for “embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.” The following day, the Cameroon government spokesman Issa Tchirouma told FRANCE 24 that the charges were part of a political ploy to destabilize Biya ahead of upcoming presidential elections.

Posted online on November 30th on the Cameroon presidency’s official website, the video made headlines on two local newspapers, Le Jour and Quotidien Mutations. These publications say that  the video was modified and re-posted on December 1st with loud Arab music drowning out the conversation of the three men. According to Quotidien Mutations, Abdoulay Wade was referring to Tchirouma’s interview with FRANCE 24 when he said “I saw, I saw. You had a very good reaction”.

FRANCE 24 made repeated attempts to obtain comment from the communications office of the president of Cameroon without success.
The three president’s conversation:
Paul Biya (centre) begins talking.
Wade (left) answers: “I saw, I saw that…”
Wade salutes Nguema (right): “Ah, hello brother”
Biya continues: “We have…”
Wade interrupts: “I saw, I saw. Your reaction was very good, I saw.”
Biya continues: “Honestly, though, we have opponents. They invent things, they press charges against African heads of state in foreign courts.”
They sit down.
Biya continues: “They can’t prove that I have a hidden fortune or I don’t know what. But what I don’t find normal is the media conniving with them, manipulating public opinion.”
Gaddafi arrives and the discussion between the three heads of state ends.

“We now know that Paul Biya is affected and preoccupied by this case”

André Charles [not his real name] is a student in communications in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital.

Since the announcement that a preliminary investigation was being opened, the official reactions have always stated that President Biya is not in the least concerned by these accusations, that he has nothing to hide and is ‘perfectly serene’.
However thanks to this video, we now know that Paul Biya is actually affected and preoccupied by the situation. He never spoke of it publicly in Cameroon since 2008. He doesn’t look to me like a man who has a clear conscience. But in his conversation with Wade and Nguema, he portrays himself as the victim.”

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