The former Director of Civil Cabinet at the Presidency of the Republic, Martin Belinga Eboutou, is dead.
He passed on in a hospital in Switzerland on May 8, following a long illness.
Before his demise, Belinga was 79 years.
News of the death, which circulated timidly on social media earlier on Wednesday, was confirmed in a tweet by the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency at 7:33pm on Wednesday.
The one-sentence statement by Belinga’s successor, Samuel Mvondo Ayolo, read, “The Civil Cabinet at the Presidency of the Republic announces, with regrets, the death of Mr. Martin Belinga Eboutou at 1:30pm.” (Our translation.) No further details were given.
A news portal, 237online.com that reported the death earlier, said Eboutou had been pursuing treatment out of the country since April 2018.
In a leaked secret memo to the Minister of Finance, dated April 20, 2018, the Director of Civil Cabinet requested that the Minister instruct the Paymaster at the Cameroon Embassy in Switzerland and Cameroon’s Permanent Representation in Geneva to cover the total medical and lodging bills of Belinga Eboutou in Switzerland.
Switzerland is also where President Paul Biya often spends his vacations and receives medical attention.
As Director of Civil Cabinet from 2009 to 2018, Belinga Eboutou acquired the status of a key player and all-powerful power broker in the Biya regime.
He was viewed by a segment of public opinion as the de facto President of the Republic, initiating or influencing major decisions.
He was later derided for shady financial deals involving kickbacks from those seeking favours, including appointments.
He was also fingered over the mysterious death of the Bishop of Bafia, Mgr. Jean Marie Benoit Balla in May, 2017.
He was dropped from office in the Government shakeup of March 2, 2018 and flew out of the country only weeks after for treatment in Switzerland where he gave up the ghost on May 8.
Born on February 17, 1940 in Nkilzok, Belinga was married and father of three.
Belinga-Eboutou served twice as Director of Civil Cabinet at the Presidency of the Republic. His first tenure there was brief, from 1996 to 1997, cumulatively with his previous duties as Chief of Presidential Protocol from 1989.
He was admired for his elegance and dexterity in executing his protocol duties in the 1980s and 1990s. He later served as Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York and Geneva and Cameroon’s Ambassador to Jamaica for 10 years from 1997 to 2007.
Back home, he was first appointed Special Adviser at the Presidency and less than two years later, he was returned to the post of Director of Civil Cabinet.
Earlier in his career, he served as head of Cameroon’s Economic Mission in Paris, Rome, Tunis and Rabat from 1985 to 1989.
Between 1974 and 1985, he was Chief of the Regional Organisations Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He began his career in 1968 as Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From 1970 to 1974, he was Chargé d’Affaires at Cameroon’s Embassy in the Congo and in 1974 he was Associate Professor at the International Relations Institute in Cameroon.
Belinga Eboutou holds degrees in Canon Law and Economics from the Catholic University, Lavanium-Kinshasa, and postgraduate diplomas in International Studies, Public Law and Political Science, as well as a Doctorate in Law from the University of Paris.