Ahmadou Ahidjo

Ahidjo, Ahmadou (ämäˈdō ähēˈjŏ) [key], 1924–89, president of Cameroon (1960–82). A Muslim Fulani chief's son, he served with the French during World War II. Entering politics in the French Cameroons, he became vice premier (1957) and premier (1958) of the territory. With the Cameroon Republic's independence (1960), he was elected its first president. He also became president of the Mouvement d'Union Camerounaise, which favored continued strong ties with France. He persuaded the British-administered Southern Cameroons to unite (1961) with the Cameroon Republic in the Federal Republic of Cameroon. He was reelected president in 1965, 1970, 1975, and 1980 as the candidate of the country's sole political party. In 1972 he secured adoption of a new unitary constitution, creating the United Republic of Cameroon, although unitary government was unpopular. Retiring in 1982, he clashed with successor Paul Biya, and after an abortive coup he was convicted in absentia. He lived in France and Senegal until his death.

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