CAMEROON: PRESIDENT BIYA GRANTS AMNESTY TO POLITICAL PRISONERS
|Cameroon President Paul Biya
February 19, 2014: Cameroon President Paul Biya has ordered the release of several high profile former government officials-turned-opponents jailed for corruption.
He also commuted the sentences of death row inmates to life jail terms.
France has persistently badgered Biya to free Franco-Cameroonian Michel Thierry Atangana, jailed since 1997 for graft.
He was campaign manager for Titus Edzoa, a close Biya aide, who took the nation by surprise in 1997 after he resigned and announced he was going to run against the president in elections that year.
According to Justice ministry sources, both men will be freed in the days ahead.
Mr Atanganaâs legal counsel and campaigners claim his conviction came from trumped up charges.
Both men were given 15-year jail terms following hurried trials that Amnesty International says politically motivated.
A YaoundĂ© court in December last year upheld fresh 20-year jail terms which both men got in October 2013 in a separate graft case, just when the sentences they got in 1997 were expected to end.
The 81-year-old Biya, in power since 1982, is considered by his Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) party as indispensable.
Considered an endemically corrupt nation, President Paul Biya anti-graft crusade (in an otherwise endemically corrupt nation) is widely seen as a ploy to neuter political opponents. (Sources: africareview.com, 19/02/2014)