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Cameroon’s president Paul Biya now world’s oldest head of state, After Queen Elizabeth’s death

Cameroonian President Paul Biya is now the world’s oldest head of state following the demise of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday.

The queen died peacefully at Balmoral in Scotland on Thursday aged 96, Buckingham Palace announced.

“The death of Her Majesty Elizabeth II is felt painfully and affects the Commonwealth of Nations. She had a unique stature and played an emblematic role throughout history,” tweeted Biya, who now becomes the world’s oldest sitting head of state.

The 89-year-old autocrat has been at the helm of central Africa’s largest economy for 40 years and counting. If his prior seven years as prime minister are added to his four-decade reign, Biya would be the world’s longest-ruling non-royal leader.

Biya is followed in age by Michel Naim Aoun, the 88-year-old former military general who has served as president of Lebanon since October 2016.

Under Biya, Cameroon survived an economic downturn in the mid-1980s to the early 2000s and moved from a one-party to a multiparty state.

Cameroon has had only two heads of state since its independence from France in 1960 and Biya is the only president most of the nearly 28 million Cameroonians (World Population Review) have ever known.

He inherited a country of less than 10 million people when he was sworn in for the first time in 1982, succeeding the country’s first president, Ahmadou Ahidjo. Cameroon has a largely youth population, with more than 60 per cent of the populace under the age of 25.

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