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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07YAOUNDE1496 2007-12-27 12:29:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Yaounde
Cable title:  

UN OFFICIAL SEEKS USG SUPPORT TO PRESSURE

Tags:   CM PGOV PREL 
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FM AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8435
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 0055
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1677
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L YAOUNDE 001496 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/26/2017
TAGS: CM PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: UN OFFICIAL SEEKS USG SUPPORT TO PRESSURE
PRESIDENT BIYA

REF: YAOUNDE 1479

Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Scott Ticknor



1. (C) Summary: The Director of the Africa Division, UN
Department of Political Affairs, Sammy Kum Buo (of
Cameroonian origin), recently encouraged Ambassador to help
convince A/S Jendayi Frazer and former UNSG Kofi Annan to
engage President Biya about the need to plan for succession
when his term ends in 2011. We believe such interventions
could be useful as Cameroon debates constitutional reform and
enters the critical next few years. End summary.



2. (C) In a December 18 courtesy call on Ambassador, Sammy
Kum Buo, Director of the Africa Division, Department of
Political Affairs, UN New York, hoped the USG could intervene
to help convince President Biya to step down after his term
is due to expire in 2011. Buo (of Cameroonian origin) said
Cameroon is among the handful of African countries his UN
office is watching closely for how they manage political
transition. He was concerned about the lack of succession
planning and the recent calls by the ruling CPDM party and
senior officials to remove term limits by changing the
constitution (reftel). Buo opined that "some powerful
people" believe that if Biya tries to stay on, "it will be
civil war."



3. (C) According to Buo, President Biya is not power
hungry; however, he is weak and isolated, surrounded by a
weak Prime Minister and President of the National Assembly,
and timid, corrupt ministers. Biya needs to downsize his
Cabinet, decentralize power, and recover at least some of the
stolen wealth from those around him, Buo argued. The
President needs to be helped to transition out of power, he
concluded.



4. (C) Buo opined that Biya has high regard for A/S Jendayi
Frazer and would listen to her in thinking through succession
options. Buo also sought USG support in engaging former UNSG
Kofi Annan, whom Biya reportedly greatly respects. Buo hoped
Annan could play an instrumental role in dissuading Biya to
tamper with term limits and in persuading him to prepare for
succession. Buo said that "empathy works, preaching doesn't"
and he hoped that Frazer and Annan could appeal to Biya's
legacy. Buo said the UN could not get involved directly but
he would also approach the British on this issue and possibly
other governments (although not the French - he argued that
Biya does not trust France).



5. (C) Comment: Buo did not claim to speak for the United
Nations but appeared to reflect internal discussions in his
office and some of his own personal concerns as a savvy
Cameroonian dealing with conflicts and political problems
throughout the continent. We share Buo's concerns about the
lack of succession planning and the prospect of Biya changing
the constitution to stay in power. We also see scope for
convincing Biya to take the democratic path. We believe it
could be constructive for A/S Frazer and Annan to deliver a
message to Biya early in the new year, the thrust of which
would be: it's time to prepare to step down. End comment.



GARVEY