Pope Francis (m.) receives the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya and his wife Chantal © Vincenzo Pinto
Cameroon's President Paul Biya met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday. During the conversation, which lasted a good 20 minutes, the importance of promoting national cohesion was also stressed, according to the Vatican.
Human rights as well as minority rights must be further promoted in peaceful coexistence and mutual respect of the various religious groups, it was said in a Vatican communique after the meeting. It is necessary to value the richness of the different historical and cultural traditions of the country.
According to the statement, some international ies were also addressed, as well as regional challenges.
Olive branch as a gift
According to observing journalists, the Pope presented Biya with a bronze olive branch as a gift, saying: "This is a symbol of peace; I wish Cameroon peace."The Catholic relief organization Misereor recently reported that a conflict in the central African country, which until now had been localized, was threatening to spread.
It was the first private audience of the President with Francis. Biya, a Catholic, was prime minister from 1975 to 1982 and has held the highest state office since then. He was last re-elected in 2011. He was accompanied on his visit to the Vatican by a large delegation, including his wife.
According to the Vatican, during their meeting Biya and Francis praised the good mutual diplomatic relations and acknowledged the Church's contribution to the country's development, especially in the education and health sectors. The last papal visit to Cameroon so far was made in 2009 by Benedict XVI. (2005-2013). He was also received by Biya.