Paul Biya (born Paul Barthélemy Biya’a bi Mvondo, 13 February 1933) is a Cameroonian politician who has been the President of Cameroon since 6 November 1982. A native of Cameroon’s south, Biya rose rapidly as a bureaucrat under President Ahmadou Ahidjo in the 1960s, serving as Secretary-General of the Presidency from 1968 to 1975 and then as Prime Minister of Cameroon from 1975 to 1982. He succeeded Ahidjo as President upon the latter’s surprise resignation in 1982 and consolidated power in a 1983–1984 power struggle with his predecessor.
Biya introduced political reforms within the context of a single-party system in the 1980s. Under pressure, he accepted the introduction of multiparty politics in the early 1990s. He narrowly won the 1992 presidential election with 40% of the plural, single-ballot vote and was re-elected by large margins in 1997, 2004, and 2011. Opposition politicians and Western governments have alleged voting irregularities and fraud on each of these occasions.
Biya has maintained Cameroon’s close relationship with France, Cameroon’s former colonial ruler.
Paul Biya was born in the village of Mvomeka’a in the South Region of French Cameroon. He studied at lycée Louis Legrand, Sorbonne and Sciences Po Paris, where he graduated in 1961 with a diploma in International Relations. He married Jeanne-Irène Biya, who did not have any children, though she adopted Franck Biya who was born from a relationship of Paul Biya with another woman. After Jeanne-Irène Biya died on 29 July 1992, Paul Biya married Chantal Biya (38 years younger than himself) on 23 April 1994, and had two more children with her.