Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the world’s longest-serving president of Equatorial Guinea, aspires to another term as president today. Obiang has now been in charge of the central African country for 43 years and is expected to be re-elected today.
On paper, it is an ordinary ballot box, with opposition parties and opposition candidates. But 14 opposition parties allied themselves with Obiang’s authoritarian regime. Only two candidates dare to object.
The 80-year-old Obiang’s authoritarian regime has been accused of intimidation, abuse and corruption. Obiang’s head can be seen everywhere on the streets of the capital, Malabo, while posters of the opposition are few in the city.
At an election meeting last week, the president called on his supporters to vote for him, otherwise there would be too much uncertainty. “Some say there has to be a change. But we don’t know if they want that change for people, or if they want a catastrophic situation that could lead to an out-of-control situation.”
Equatorial Guinea is a country with a population of about 1.4 million people. It is rich in oil and gas reserves, but the residents hardly benefit from the revenues. The gap between rich and poor is huge. Many people live in extreme poverty, while the family is enriched.
The vice president and Obiang’s son, Teodorin, has been convicted in France of money laundering and embezzlement. The French confiscated real estate in France worth tens of millions of euros. In 2019, dozens of expensive cars that once belonged to Teodorin were sold in Switzerland By public auction.
The current president came to power in 1979 when he staged a coup. This was more than ten years after independence from Spain. In the first years there was a junta, then elections were held.
But the result shows similarities with those in countries like North Korea: In 1989, Obiang got 99 percent of the vote. In 2016 he received the fewest votes: 93.7 percent.
Critics say Obiang has built an unprecedentedly corrupt system that denies ordinary people the chance to escape poverty. Freedom of expression does not exist in the country, and all television and radio channels are controlled by or linked to the regime.
Human rights groups accuse the regime of intimidation on an unprecedented scale. This goes so far as opponents of the regime are tracked down abroad, forcibly returned to the country, and then sentenced to death.
In September, security forces raided the office of an opposition party, the only one with a seat in Parliament, and arrested at least 100 members. The president and his son believe they have done nothing wrong.
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