The country's reliance on French currency pegs it to its former colonial master, a local activist told RT
Cameroon celebrated Unity Day on Saturday, but the vestiges of foreign rule continue to hold the country back, African Freedom Institute President Franklin Nyamsi told RT. France, he argued, still wields undue economic power.
A German colony since 1884, Cameroon was divided between Great Britain and France after World War I. French Cameroon gained independence in 1960, with British Southern Cameroons following a year later. A referendum was passed on May 20, 1972 to unify both territories as Cameroon.
However, Cameroon still uses the Central African CFA franc, a currency printed in France and pegged to the euro. The CFA franc's fixed exchange rate allows France and other European nations to purchase Cameroon's abundant raw materials - mainly petroleum, cocoa, and timber - at advantageous prices, while Cameroon is required to keep 50% of its foreign exchange reserves in the French Treasury.
"For me, Cameroon's independence day is not a reminder of the independence or the sovereignty of the country," writer and African Freedom Institute President Franklin Nyamsi told RT on Saturday. "The economic system of Cameroon is not absolutely controlled by Cameroonians. As you know, the French neocolonial currency is still ruling."
While French President Emmanuel Macron promised in 2019 to do away with the requirement that CFA franc users keep their reserves in Paris, that decision only applied to eight West African states, not Central African nations such as Cameroon, Chad, and the Republic of the Congo.
Cameroonian President Paul Biya is the world's oldest head of state and the second-longest-ruling president in Africa, having been in power since 1982. Biya's government is backed by Paris, which Nyamsi said turns a blind eye to his arrests of political opponents and alleged election rigging.
"The political system has been blocked by a political elite that was against the true sovereignty of the country," he told RT. "Now, the democratic process is blocked by constitutional violations, and by non-respect of fair electoral processes. This 20th of May 2023 is in fact a reminder of the very blocked situation of the country."