Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang wins again to extend reign

Monday, November 28th, 2022 07:50 | By
Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang wins again to extend reign
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. PHOTO/Courtesy

The world’s longest-serving president has won re-election in Equatorial Guinea to continue presiding over his authoritarian regime.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 80, secured almost 95 per cent of votes, officials announced six days after the vote.

“The results prove us right again,” Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the president’s son, said. “We continue to be a great party.”

Some opposition candidates stood, but none were expected to win.

President Obiang has a strong grip on the oil-rich central African nation, with family members in key government roles. He seized power in 1979 after a military takeover and has survived several coup attempts.

Upon gaining office from his predecessor and uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, he made some reforms but retained Nguema’s absolute control over the nation.

Political opposition is barely tolerated and severely hampered by the lack of a free press, as all broadcast media is either owned outright by the government or controlled by its allies.

It is thought that President Obiang, who has previously denied accusations of human rights abuses and election rigging, intends to use his sixth term to clean up his international reputation.

In September, the government abolished the death penalty, in a move which was praised by the United Nations.

Equatorial Guinea has a history of what critics call fraudulent election results.

In 1968, Spanish Guinea gained independence and became the Republic of Equatorial Guinea with Francisco Macias Nguema as president.

Rights groups have labelled the country’s two presidents - Francisco Macias Nguema and Teodoro Obiang Nguema - as some of the worst rights abusers in Africa.

The Spanish, French and Portuguese-speaking country discovered vast oil reserves in 1996, but much of the 1.4 million population has not benefitted from this, with poverty still rampant.

Alleged corruption has also tainted Obiang’s tenure despite several pledges to increase transparency.

His son, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who observers see as a potential successor, was convicted for embezzlement by a French court in 2020.

Assets that foreign powers say he bought with ill-gotten gains include a crystal-covered glove worn by Michael Jackson, an armoured Rolls-Royce limousine and a yacht. Both father and son have consistently denied wrongdoing.

With the re-election, Obiang will face new challenges. The economy was hit by Covid-19 and although the war in Ukraine has boosted demand for non-Russian oil it has also brought a sharp rise in food prices.

“The opposition does not stand a chance,” Alicante said. “He is going to do whatever it takes not to leave power.”

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