The Head of State broke away from tradition by announcing his intention to run for the 2018 Presidential election through his official twitter account.
“Dear Compatriots in Cameroon & the Diaspora, Aware of the challenges we must take up together to ensure a more united, stable & prosperous Cameroon, I am willing to respond positively to your overwhelming calls. I will stand as Your Candidate in the upcoming presidential election,” Paul Biya shocked the twitter community with the announcement.
He followed up the announcvement on his official Facebook page.
This is unlike the 2011 elections and previous elections when his candidacy always remained a mystery till the last minute.
By resorting to twitter in particular and the social media in general, Paul Biya is joining the group of politicians/Heads of States bypassing the traditional media through social media to reach out to the public.
Donald Trump does that to great effect and Paul Biya might just have indicated to Cameroonians that he is ready to reach out to them through the social media.
The signs had been coming since February 10 2017 in an address to the youths when Paul Biya called on them to use the social media wisely and not be “passive followers”.
However, the social media which today seems to be Paul Biya’s trump card was in the recent past a described as a tool to “manipulate Cameroonians and destabilise the country” according to his close allies. Consequently, the internet was shut down in the two English-speaking regions of the country for at least a combined 118 days.
Social media was heavily restricted in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon on September 30, 2017 but is today being used as a perfect tool to reach out to Cameroonians.
With over three hundred thousand followers on twitter and close to a million on Facebook, it will be of no surprise if the 85-year old launches an aggressive electoral campaign on social media in the coming weeks.
Paul Biya has surely thrown the challenge to the opposition candidates, the battle for the social media-sphere has been launched.