Biya, Paul

Biya, Paul bēyĕ [key], 1933–, Cameroonian political leader. Educated in Cameroon and France, where he studied at the Sorbonne and other institutions, he joined Cameroon's civil service in 1962. After holding a number of posts under President Ahmadou Ahidjo, Biya became prime minister in 1975 and succeeded Ahidjo as president in 1982. As Biya, who came from the south, consolidated his power in a government previously dominated by northerners, he clashed with Ahidjo, who was accused of an attempted coup and went into exile (1983). Biya has retained power since then, and his rule has been marked by corruption. Although he was forced to allow multiparty elections beginning in 1992, the votes have been marred by fraud and other irregularities and by opposition boycotts and divisions.

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