Cameroon: Arrests in Presidential Jet Scandal

17 Apr 2012

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President Paul Biya of Cameroon and his wife Chantal were on the Albatross as it made an emergency landing


Two high-profile politicians have been arrested in Cameroon in connection with the allegedly fraudulent purchase of a presidential plane.

Marafa Hamidou Yaya used to be the interior minister and Chief Ephraim Inoni is a former prime minister, reports the BBC.

They were part of a delegation that went to the US in 2004 to buy a $31m (£20m) jet, the Albatross.

It developed problems on its inaugural flight, and was later found to be an old aircraft with a new coat of paint.

President Paul Biya, his wife Chantal and their children were onboard when mechanical difficulties forced the pilot to make an emergency landing.

At the time, Yaya was secretary-general at the presidency and Inoni his deputy.

Inoni later went on to be prime minister from 2004 to 2009 - while Yaya held several senior government positions before holding the powerful interior ministry portfolio.

He was seen a potential successor to President Biya, who sacked him in December 2011.

The BBC's Randy Jo Sa'ah in Yaounde says that the "Albatross Affair" has dominated Cameroon's headlines for many years.

Once news spread of the arrests of Yaya and Inoni, a large crowd gathered to see the once powerful men being driven from the courtrooms to the capital's maximum security prison, our correspondent says.

Another former minister, Jean-Marie Atangana Mebara, a former ambassador to the United States, Jerome Mendouga, and the former head of Cameroon's now defunct national airlines, Yves Michel Fotso, were earlier arrested for their alleged roles in the deal.


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