The French thought they had found the ideal man last May when they picked André-Marie M'bida, 40, to serve as first Premier of the semiautonomous French Cameroons, the California-sized territory near the equator on Africa's west coast. His forehead bears a blue tribal tattoo; he is a Roman Catholic; and like the French themselves, he does not want to rush into independence before the 3,300,000 African inhabitants are prepared for it. When M'bida wanted to get tough with Communist-led rebels who were terrorizing parts of the country's coastal regions from jungle bases (TIME, Dec. 2), the French approved and...

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