By Dibussi Tande
Beyond legitimate questions about the guilt or innocence of all the individuals arrested in the Albatross affair, or concerns about the “instrumentalization” of the justice system for purposes of “political cleansing”, there is one element in this complex and convoluted story that everyone seems to agree on, albeit in varying degrees, i.e., that in a bid to swindle money, government officials colluded to purchase an ageing and defective presidential aircraft which put President Biya’s life in danger during the aircraft’s maiden flight from Yaounde to Paris.
The Nose of the "Albatros" (c) Steve Hill
For example, The Post newspaper recently described the Albatross as "an old bucket that rattled Biya", while François Mattei, author of Le Code Biya, a praise book commissioned by the Biya regime, was more scathing, labeling the aircraft as a "Flying Coffin" – a view shared by newspapers such as l’Independent, which claims that « l'Albatros était tout simplement un cercueil volant destiné à tuer le chef de l'Etat et toute sa famille. » (The Albatross was simply a flying coffin meant to kill the Head of State and his entire family). Although it did not go this far, even Le Messager once described the Albatross’ maiden flight as “pénible et émouvant” (painful and emotional)…