After AU endorsement: Yang set for 79th UN General Assembly Presidency in September.

Astute diplomat and former Prime Minister, Head of Government, Philemon Yunji Yang, is now set to be the next President of the 79th General Assembly of the United Nations, UN. Yang’s towering pedigree and profile seduced members of the African Union Commission, AU, who unanimously endorsed his candidature as the choice of the African continent.

Philemon Yang, who is Grand Chancellor of National Orders, was endorsed as Africa’s candidate on the sidelines of the 44th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Wednesday February 14. 

The ongoing 44th AU Executive Council, it should be noted, is in preparation for the upcoming 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU Heads of State and Governments. 

The Executive Council meeting was chaired by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

It was attended by Africa’s Foreign Affairs Ministers, with aim to discuss the continent’s development and how to foster collaboration for economic growth. 

Yang is running for the UN top job under the motto: “Support Intercultural Dialogue”. His mandate as President of the 79th General Assembly of the United Nations is set to begin September 24, 2024, and will run till September 24, 2025. 

Cameroon, it should be noted, was competing for the post of President of the 79th General Assembly of the United Nations with South Africa.

Reports we gathered hold that South Africa, withdrew its candidature during yesterday’s Executive Council meeting, after noticing that Yang’s candidature had gotten the backing of most African countries. 

Yang’s endorsement, those versed with happenings along the diplomatic corridors said, is the fruit of Cameroon’s numerous sacrifices and strong attachment to burning global issues.

Cameroon, it should be recalled, had previously withdrawn its candidature for the post of President of the General Assembly of the United Nations in two separate occasions. 

First, we gathered, was in favour of Uganda and later Nigeria. Keen watchers of diplomatic issues were unanimous that it was but normal for Cameroon, after such sacrifices, to get the endorsement for the position. 

This, we also gathered, accounts for why Yang’s candidature sailed through like a knife passing through a cake. 

AU members after opening of 44th Ordinary Session of Executive Council




Biya lobbies diplomats to support Cameroon’s candidate 

The Head of State, President Paul Biya, it should be recalled, had last January 6, 2024, while responding to speech from the Dean of the Diplomatic corps accredited to Yaounde, during an occasion to received New Year wishes, appealed to them to throw their weight behind Cameroon’s candidate. 

Biya had regretted that the increase in threats to international peace and security is negatively impacting the development of many countries and, consequently, the well-being of their people, clearly reechoing that dialogue and conciliation should “take precedence over confrontation and conflict”. 

Such, he had said, is crucial for the very survival of mankind. 

It is on this that he said the UN should and can play a key role to this end, in spite of the many attempts to weaken it, despite the upheavals it is facing and despite the deadlock that is gradually sapping its requisite reform process.

Biya said such “explains Cameroon’s candidacy for the Presidency of the 79th session of the United Nations General Assembly, for which I am canvassing the support of all of you”. 

“In a world that seems to be going adrift, in a world that seems to revel in paths leading to its destruction, we continue to believe in the United Nations. We continue to believe in the values on which it is based and in the dreams of its Founding Fathers. We continue to believe that our common organisation is best placed to lead mankind to overcome passions, egoisms and antagonisms to refocus on what is essential, namely its survival. Because, as we get lost in futile quarrels, our most precious asset, the earth, is being threatened,” he said. 


Revisiting gov’t’s efforts to secure Yang’s candidature 

It should be recalled that government had done a lot of lobbying in order to secure support for Yang’s candidature. 

On July 6, 2023, the Minister of External Relations, Lejeunne Mbella Mbella, officially presented Yang’s candidature to the African diplomatic corps accredited to Yaounde. 

Minister Mbella Mbella used the ceremony to literally seduce the African diplomatic corps with the towering pedigree of Cameroon’s candidate for the top job. 

“He has been a very good collaborator of the President of the Republic and also, he has been playing key roles in the domestic politics and policies of Cameroon,” Mbella Mbella had told the diplomats. 

“He is very kind, firm, wise and very dynamic,” Mbella Mbella told members of the African diplomatic corps comprising High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Chargé d'affaires.

ECCAS backs of Yang’s candidacy 

Philemon Yang, it should also be said, was in a pole position for the race to the Presidency of the 79th United Nations General Assembly, when he got the backing of Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS.

ECCAS leaders had thrown their weight behind his candidacy. That was during their 23rd Conference, which took place in Libreville, Gabon, on July 1, 2023. 

The ECCAS leaders equally urged the entire African continent to rally behind Yang’s candidacy. 

Minister Mbella Mbella represented President Paul Biya at the meeting, which was chaired by the former Gabonese President, Ali Bongo Ondimba.

“The Conference pledges to give him its full support. It calls for the solidarity of the community and its member States, as well as the support of other African countries, to ensure that this candidacy is supported by the African Union," partly read a communiqué issued at the end of the proceedings.


Snippet of the profile of Cameroon’s candidate 

Born in Jikejem-Oku, in Oku Subdivision, Bui Division of the North West Region, Philemon Yunji Yang, is a career diplomat who served as Prime Minister from June 30, 2009 to January 4, 2019. 

The multi linguist is Chair of the African Union Imminent Personalities to discuss key issues on the continent. 

He served as Ambassador, High Commissioner Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Cameroon to Canada for at least 20 years. 

He was Assistant Secretary General of the Presidency, with the rank of minister, from 2004 to 2009. He served in the government from 1975 to 1984 and was Cameroon's Ambassador to Canada from 1984 to 2004. 

After studying Law at the University of Yaounde, Yang became a Prosecutor at the Court of Appeal in Buea in January 1975. He was appointed into government as Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration, on June 30, 1975. He was later promoted to the post of Minister of Mines and Energy, on November 8, 1979. 

Yang remained in the latter position for more than four years, before being removed from the government on February 4, 1984. 

He then became Cameroon’s Ambassador to Canada on October 23, 1984, remaining in that post for 20 years. His title changed to High Commissioner, when Cameroon joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1995. He also served as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Canada for about 10 years.

He headed Cameroon's delegation to the negotiations on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, from February 1998 to January 2000. 

After the protocol was adopted on January 29, 2000, he became Chairman of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol, ICCP. 

Just recently, Yang was appointed Member of the Wise Committee of the Economic Community of Central African States.




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