By Munira Abdelmenan Awel
ANKARA (AA) – Paul Biya was sworn in on Tuesday to his seventh term in service as president of Cameroon.
In his inaugural speech, Biya thanked the Cameroonian people for renewing their trust in him.
"Such trust will represent an invaluable support to me in the discharge of the weighty responsibilities awaiting me in the years ahead," he said, according to News and Corporate Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV).
"I am conscious of the frustrations of some Cameroonians in the North West and South West Regions. We shall speed up the decentralization process to render local councils more autonomy," he added.
Speaking of the separatist movement in the English-speaking part of the country, Biya said: "I invite the youth, most of whom have been misled, to drop their arms and contribute to the advancement of the country. To terrorists in the North West and South West Regions, I promise they will meet our determined security forces and face-off with the law."
Cameroon has been marred by protests since 2016, with residents in English-speaking regions saying they have been marginalized for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.
The protesters are calling for a return to federalism or independence of English-speaking Cameroon, which the demonstrators refer to as the "Republic of Ambazonia".
Biya, 85, has been serving as president since 1982.
He won 71.28 percent of the votes, while his main rival Maurice Kamto came in second with 14.23 percent of the votes in the Oct. 7 presidential poll.