Africa's longest serving leader re-elected with 94%
Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang extended his rule 36-year ruling further after winning last Sunday’s presidential election. The President acknowledged that the oil-rich nation may be tired of him but that he had "dedicated his life to the country."
The elections, held on April 24 were initially planned for November but had been delayed without explanation. Six other candidates ran for the president post but was beaten by incumbent president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 73, who was re-elected with 93.7 % of the vote. Turnout was 92.9 percent, according to Equatorial Guinea's Office of Information and Press said. Mbasogo’s closest rivals, Avelino Mocache Benga and Avelino Mocache Mehengap only obtained 1.5 percent each of the vote, according to results announced by the National Election Commission.
“Worst elections ever organized”
Gabriel Nse Obiang Obono [Citizens for Change (CI) party] sought to run in the election but was barred because he had lived abroad in the past five years. Nevertheless, Obono claims that police had prevented him and 200 of his supporters from leaving his residence in the capital Malabo since the previous Friday.
"I am in prison in my own residence, there are more than 200 activists here with me and we cannot leave," Obono told AFP on Tuesday. He said that the army and police had used live ammunition against his supporters, severely injuring six of his supporters.
Other candidates chose to not participate at all. The Democratic Opposition Front (FOD) coalition of dissident groups called for a boycott of the election already on March 23, predicating that it would be rigged. Andres Essono Ondo, Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS) whose group is part of the FOD, said there were many “irregularities” surrounding the poll, adding that “President Obiang wins with a big score as a result of fraud”.
"If the elections are boycotted, Obiang will win. If the elections aren't boycotted, Obiang will also win," Tutu Alicante, executive director of the NGO EG Justice, told to newspaper Cameroon Concord. While a boycott cannot change the election results, it does make a point, Alicante emphasises: "Obiang has no legitimacy as president."
Commission chief Clemente Engonga admitted that some of the results were inaccurate, with the number of votes in some areas exceeding the number of registered voters. Engonga explanation was that some voters had "probably" voted outside of their constituencies.
Candidate Bonaventura Monsuy Asumu, who ran for the fourth time, is critical of the election. “These were the worst elections ever organized in this country,” Asumu told AFP. He explained that he had visited polling stations without ballot slips on polling day and suspects that the vote had been marked by systematic fraud.
Observers from the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) considered "the elections developed in an orderly and pacific manner and there were no incidents, while the process was accompanied by a visible security mechanism".
“Candidate of the people”
Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea since 1979 when he staged a bloody military coup and ousted his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema whom he later had executed by firing squad. Obiang has since won all the presidential elections, some elections as the sole candidate. One of his best results were in 2002 and 2009 when he won more than 97% of the votes.
“Many say that they are tired of seeing me, it’s been 36 years already. True, but I’ve dedicated my life to this country,” President Obiang said at a rally in the capital Malabo, campaigning for votes. He spoke firm about his position “I am the candidate of the people. Whoever does not vote for me is rejecting peace and opting for disorder,” he said.
Human rights issues
According to the World Bank, Equatorial Guinea has the highest GDP per capita in Africa. The large oil reserves, which were discovered in 1996, accounts for over 70 percent of national income. They also said accusations are illogical after accusing outside groups of conspiring to build tension and seeking a regime change through violence. Obiang supporters claim that the opposition are coming up with excuses to impugn the credibility of the results since it is obvious they could not win. Supporters of Obiang point out that the President has led the country’s economic transformation and has ensured peace and stability.
However, despite of the extensive oil and gas reserves, the Equatorial Guinea ranks 144 out of 187 states listed on the United Nations’ 2014 Human Development Index. Mbasogo has also repeatedly been accused of human rights violations and for suppressing the opposition and the media. The Obiang family is also accused for embezzling government money and lavishly spending it on useless projects, including work on a new capital, Oyala, the home city of Obiang. His son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, is currently the subject of foreign corruption and money-laundering investigations in France, Spain, and the United States.
Keep it in the family
Obiang could present his candidacy again due to the reforms in the Constitution in November 2011. The existing maximum age limit to candidate for presidency was removed and the post of vice-president introduced.
President Obiang will serve another seven years in office but says he will not seek a new term after this one. Tutu Alicante is skeptical; he believes that the power will remain within the Obiang family. "We are concerned that he will try to appoint his son "Teodorin" Obiang, the current vice president, as his successor."