Akere Muna: Why he is the Credible, Possible Successor to Paul Biya

Yaounde - Resentment is growing towards President Paul Biya’s increasingly repressive regime. Sixty percent of Cameroonians are under 25, and were not even born when the ruler came to power. 

Akere Tabeng Muna, who set up the Cameroonian chapter of Transparency International, hopes to effect reforms from within by toppling the 85-year-old leader in the country’s October elections.

Born on August 1952, the Cameroonian lawyer who is currently the Chairman of the International Anti-Corruption Conference Council. 

He is also the Sanctions Commissioner of the African Development Bank Group and a Member of the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa. 

He previously served as the Vice-Chair of Transparency International, and he has presided over the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union, the Pan African Lawyers Union and the Cameroon Bar Association.
Thabo Mbeki, Paul Biya and Akere Muna 

Muna has denied having any political aspirations in Cameroon, and has stated that his interest remains in his work as a lawyer and with civil society organizations. 

However, Jeune Afrique, a leading African weekly, has described him as both a credible and the possible successor to President Paul Biya, given his prominence in Cameroon and his accomplishments on the international stage, especially in the areas of anti-corruption and good governance.

Akere Muna was born in Ngyen-Mbo, a village in the North-West region of Cameroon. He completed his primary and secondary education in Cameroon before heading to the School of International Service (SIS) at American University in Washington, D.C., obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations in 1975. 

He then moved to England, where he joined the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. He was called to the Bar in England in 1978. That same year, he returned to Cameroon to practice law.

Upon returning to Cameroon, Akere Muna joined the legal practice of his brother, Bernard Muna. In 1984, the legal practice was converted into a law firm called Muna, Muna & Associates. 

Muna, Muna & Associates is one of the oldest law firms in Cameroon, with experience in the bi-jural (common law and civil law) legal system of Cameroon. Although Akere Muna has continued to work as a lawyer at the firm, he has held several positions in civil society within Cameroon and internationally.

In 1997, Akere Muna ran for president of the Cameroon Bar Association and won in a landslide. In that election, Akere formed a coalition (the Rainbow Coalition) for membership of the Bar Council that represented all the regions of Cameroon. 

All subsequent presidents of the Cameroon Bar Association have come from that initial Rainbow Coalition. This has led some to criticize that Akere Muna’s efforts led to the creation of an elitist group with excessive influence in the bar election process.

In 2000, Akere Muna founded the Cameroon chapter of the anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International. In the two previous years, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) had listed Cameroon as the most corrupt of the countries surveyed.

Many therefore thought it was risky for Akere Muna to head an organization that challenged the status quo. The Cameroon government strongly challenged TI’s assessment, and even considered suing TI. 

Muna, Muna & Associates lost many clients during this period, as many of those clients wanted to avoid the government’s ire as a result of any association with the firm. Eventually, the government formed an ad hoc committee, presided over by the Prime Minister, to combat corruption. 

Akere Muna, was a member of that committee, in his capacity as president of the Cameroon Bar.

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