former Cameroon mines minister and two aides found guilty of corruption
must now serve life in jail after an appeals court lifted their
existing 30-year terms, state radio reported on Saturday. Defence
lawyers walked out in protest before the judgements were read, saying
the case had become politically motivated.
minister Alphonse Siyan Siewe, who was also general manager of the port
of Douala, and a dozen other officials were originally jailed as part a
graft crackdown launched in 2006. Nestling in-between west and central
Africa, Cameroon is seen as one of the region’s most promising
economies but bodies like the World Bank have warned that local and
foreign investments have been hamstrung by rampant corruption.
appeals court at Bonanjo in Douala … sentenced the former general
manager of the Douala port authority to life imprisonment,” state radio
reported, confirming that Siyam Siewe and two port colleagues were
jailed for embezzlement. Berlin-based Transparency International has
consistently rated Cameroon amongst the most corrupt nations in the
the country has slightly improved its standing since topping the list
in 1998 and 1999, under pressure at home and abroad, President Paul
Biya launched “Operation Sparrowhawk” to crack down on graft in 2006.
Siyam Siewe was one of the first high profile figures targeted by the
operation but critics say the crackdown has been used as much to settle
political scores as anything else.