The information that spread on Tuesday evening was confirmed to Young Africa from family sources. Amadou Ali, former minister and close collaborator of Paul Biya, died on September 27 in Yaoundé, a city he had returned to a few days earlier after a final medical stay in Switzerland.
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Sick and weakened for many months, Amadou Ali had gradually withdrawn from public life. His last appearance in front of the cameras dated back to April 15. He had gone to N’Djamena to send a letter from Paul Biya to the President of the Transitional Military Council (CMT), Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno. Dressed in a blue boubou, cane in hand, this tall staker born in Kolofata, in the Far North, had given his last media speech on the steps of the Chadian presidency, saluting « l’accession in power in peace” of the son of the late Idriss Déby Itno.
Key figure in Biya’s entourage
Although having left the government since January 5, 2019, Amadou Ali remained a key figure in the entourage of the Cameroonian head of state, who continued to consult him discreetly. The two men had known each other for almost forty years and had started to walk together in the first hours of Paul Biya’s presidency.
When the latter inherited power after the resignation of Ahmadou Ahidjo in 1982, Amadou Ali was General Delegate for Tourism, a post that no longer exists, equivalent to that of Secretary of State. A year after taking office, Paul Biya transferred him to the general delegation of the gendarmerie, a first for a graduate of the National School of Administration and Magistracy (Enam).
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This did not prevent many gendarmes from being involved in the coup attempt which took place on April 6, 1984. The event would also modify Amadou Ali’s political trajectory. A member of the Kanuri ethnic group, he escapes the wind of suspicion that is sweeping through the capital and aimed at people from the far north in general and the Fulani in particular. On August 24, 1985, the general management was transformed into a secretary of state: Amadou Ali entered the government.
He will remain there for thirty-four years without interruption – a record of longevity. He will collect posts and moroccos, being in turn Minister of State, Secretary General to the Presidency, Minister of State in charge of Defence, Keeper of the Seals and Deputy Prime Minister… Years during which he will have been responsible for the files the most sensitive.
One of the ministers plus feared
Project manager of Operation Sparrowhawk, launched by Paul Biya in 2008 to fight against the embezzlement of public funds, Amadou Ali was one of the most feared ministers. It was also he who was in charge of the Bakassi litigation, and in particular in the follow-up of the negotiations with Nigeria. His last big file was that of the fight against Boko Haram.
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When President Biya declared war on this armed group in May 2014, while he was in Paris, it was Amadou Ali who stood by his side, instead of the Minister of Defense, who remained in Yaoundé. He will be involved in several operations of negotiation with the members of the sect for the release of hostages. His own wife will even be kidnapped, before being released after four months of detention.
A seasoned administrator, Amadou Ali was also a politician and an influential member of the Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People (RDPC, in power) in the Far North. In 2013, comments attributed to him by WikiLeaks about the succession of Paul Biya sparked a lively controversy. According to the United States Ambassador to Cameroon, he had affirmed “that the next president would not be a Béti-Bulu [contrairement à Paul Biya] “. “When asked what the North would do if Biya chose a Béti-Bulu to succeed him, Ali replied that the head of state would never make such a decision,” she reported. Statements which, despite the disappearance of the former Keeper of the Seals, still retain a particular resonance, so vivid are the battles successorales.