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Biya – Ahidjo’s Rift – Harbinger of the Failed Coup in 1984

He had an educationally sound background and having worked with him for long prompted his predecessor to believe in him and handed over power to him serenely. Little did he know that he was dealing with a Serrano. As some one Amadou Ahidjo trusted, he was taken aback when he soon realized that his successor was not living up to the tenets of the then ruling party. He was fast enough to read between the lines and the chameleon hit a sore point by failing to implement the policies of the then Cameroon National Union (CNU). This was really substantiation that he was a cootie on the body of his predecessor or a cog in the wheel.

The inability of Amadou Ahidjo to weather the storm precipitated him to sense danger and received Biya poorly when he visited Ngoundere in 1983. He soon realized that he was trying to back the wrong horse and thus had an Argus-eye. He then advocated for his teammates and Ministers from the North to resign from the regime of Biya which he responded by reshuffling the cabinet throwing them out. A tall order of events ranging from the failed attempts to eliminate Biya to the coup of 1984 took place for he was really a thorn in his flesh.

Between March and August 1983 there were futile attempts alleged to be masterminded by Amadou Ahidjo to eliminate Biya. This was possible because he had some hands on his farms. First was the attempt to exterminate Biya during the 20th May celebration in Yaounde where he escaped death at the skin of the teeth. Biya sensed danger too and boycotted a political bureau meeting on the 19th of June the same year thus still escaping death at a close shave. By hair’s breadth he fled death again during the military ceremony for graduating officers in the Military Academy ( EMIA) and on August 7th 1983 in a football match pitting Canon Yaounde and Union Douala in Cameroon Football cup Final another endeavor was made to do away with Biya after which he came to grips with himself.Following these series of stabs to eliminate Biya, he became rather cautious and with the help of his collaborators, he was always being hinted for assassination attempts. He also tightened the security around him and the poor planning of the assassination plots by his adversaries gave him an edge to be wise.

The immediate causes of the dark April 6th 1984 coup could be traced to the fact that the chairman of the CNU and the newly appointed president had conflicting ideas just to support the tension that was already looming between Ahidjo and Biya. The North -South cleavage became rather prominent as top ranking Military officers from the north were removed during the cabinet shake up and Biya quickly transferred the Unit of the Republican guard. By 3.05 pm on the 6th of April 1984,captain Awal Abassi and colonel Ibrahim Saleh together with some mutineers attacked the presidency, the Military Head quarters and the National radio station which was switched off by a journalist and the message about the coup was circulating only in Yaounde.Though the airport was surrounded by the insurgents as early as 7.00am, it was later on recaptured by the forces loyal to Biya by the 11th Infantry battalion from Ebolowa under ColonelTitus Ebogo with reinforcement by air forces troops from Koutaba.

To borrow a leaf from neighboring Nigeria where a series of successful coups have been carried out, one can say that the coup plotters did not make use of surprise which is indispensable in a military take over. The air force was not put out of action that prompted the recapture of the airport.Failure to completely neutralize top military officers loyal to Biya and the fact that the strategic sites already seized by the rebels were not well protected eased recapturing. Above all, the leader of the mutineers in a communiqué over the radio spoke with fear over the radio that necessitated people to doubt the story.

Whether the coup was successful or not, the damages were enormous. The coup plotters were condemned to death while others were instantly executed.. About 235 gendarmes died and about 1053 rebels captured. Some top ranking ministers were dismissed from their posts by Biya and the Republican guard was dissolved and placed under the Delegation of National Gendarmerie. The presidency was then guarded by Regiment of the Armed forces Headquarters.

If an antecedent can hand over power peacefully to a successor he trusted even if he failed him after, why can the descendant not too hand over to someone else? Coups and post election violence must not be a means to a change in a regime for those who appreciate the sweetness of honey must have tasted something bitter. A good actor knows when to leave the stage except he wants to be a cyborg.

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Source by Fuh Ngwa