If the number and solemnity with which New Year wishes are expressed are anything to rely on, then 2019 would certainly be a year with a difference for Cameroon and her Head of State, Paul Biya. In fact, the traditional New Year Wishes ceremony presented to the President of the Republic at the start of each year this time around witnessed innovations which added more grandeur to the usually colourful and hugelyattended ceremony.
As a matter of fact, most, if not all, diplomats and representatives of international organisations in Cameroon who took part in the New Year Wishes presentation to the country’s President left the State House yesterday January 9, 2019 with another feeling of the yearly rendezvous. Unlike in the previous years when they all assembled at the ground floor of the Unity Palace and lined up for the Ambassador’s Saloon at the first floor, the 34 Ambassadors, four Chargés d’affaires and 36 representatives of international organisations present in the country were ushered directly into the ceremonial hall upon their arrival. Already labelled seats were provided to each of the diplomats in line with Cameroon’s hospitality.
Before President Biya made his entry into the hall at 11 am, the decor was already fully planted for the historic ceremony. In full respect of their host, the diplomats gave Mr. Biya a standing ovation and stayed up throughout the close to the one hour ceremony. On behalf of the diplomats, their Dean, Paul Patrick Biffot, Ambassador of Gabon, in a speech, hailed President Paul Biya for the strides made last year, challenges that starred the country in the face notwithstanding. The Gabonese diplomat notably lauded the successful holding of the Senatorial and Presidential elections, the putting in place of the Constitutional Council and efforts made towards normalising life in the restive North West and South West Regions.
President Biya’s clairvoyance in handling other burning State issues like co-opting of more youth and women in several management organs of the State equally received an applause from the diplomatic representation. Even as surmountable challenges are yet to be a thing of the past, Paul Patrick Biffot on behalf of his peers pledged their unalloyed support to Cameroon in tackling the hiccups.
In what almost looked like a master piece on international relations, President Paul Biya in response made a round of world happenings. Ranging from the disturbing climate change, protectionism and the irreversible globalisation trend, Mr. Biya pledged Cameroon’s unwavering determination to stand by values that unite and advance the cause of development and living together.
The Head of State disclosed that Cameroon deepened her relations with the rest of the world in 2018 and will stop at nothing in solidifying them now and thereafter. The innovations witnessed with Ambassadors were equally visible at the Banquet Hall where national dignitaries had thronged prior to the arrival of the Head of State at 12:30 pm. Seats were provided to members of all the more than 30 delegations who only queued up when President Biya came in to shake hands with them following the order of the State Protocol.
As diverse as the country is in terms of language and culture, all the attendees of the Unity Palace ceremony showed proof of homogeneity as they each, through the structures they belong to, happily presented best wishes to a visibly elated Paul Biya.
A light refreshment that followed the handshakes equally permitted the dignitaries to share pleasantries with Mr Biya and also among themselves, discussing deeply, hopefully on how to shun what is divisive and hold onto values that unite all and sundry for a more developed, mutually-acceptable and indivisible Cameroon.