Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has ordered an investigation into allegations that funds received to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, had been embezzled. Concerns regarding the “scant transparency” in the management of the funds had last month been raised by Human Rights Watch. The BBC reports that transparency had been a pre-condition for acquiring loans to manage the pandemic from the International Monetary Fund.
Last year April, Cameroon’s Minister of Health had announced a $105 million response plan to the pandemic. Following that, in May 2020, the IMF approved a $256 million emergency loan to help finance the plan. Then, in October, the IMF approved a further loan of $156 million to Cameroon to finance the country’s health care system, as well as to help pandemic-hit businesses and households.
The IMF is now demanding accountability. Cameroon’s Secretary General of the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, ordered the country’s Minister of Justice, in a letter, to investigate the mismanagement of the funds. He wrote, “I have the honor to pass on the high instructions of the Head of State prescribing the opening of judicial investigation against authors, co-authors and accomplices of cases of the financial embezzlement of the said funds.”
According to the BBC, more than 850 Cameroonians have died from the virus to date, with over 57 000 others having been infected.
Umm Muhammed Umar