World’s longest-serving ruler, with 43 years in power, now bids for half century.

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo will seek to extend his 43-year rule of the tiny oil-rich central African nation in elections on Sunday, and there’s little doubt he’ll succeed.

Obiang, who seized power from his uncle in 1979, has won every vote since with over 90% of the ballots. He first won re-election in 1989, a few months before the Berlin Wall fell. About 80% of Equatoguineans have only known him as president.

The 80-year-old’s rule has been marked by the repression of political opponents, civil rights groups and independent media. He and his family have kept a firm hand on the oil and gas sector, which generates about three-quarters of government revenue. The winner of the vote will secure a seven-year term.

Obiang has two challengers – Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu of the Party of the Social Democratic Coalition (PCSD) and Andres Esono Ondo of the Convergence for Social Democracy. Asumu has unsuccessfully challenged Obiang in three consecutive elections and is widely seen as loyal to Obiang’s ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea.

Members of Ondo’s party, widely considered the only strong opposition candidate allowed to run against Obiang in years, have been arrested and accused of plotting attacks against gas stations and government officials’ residences.

Son’s Succession

Following the collapse of oil prices in 2014 and a more recent fall in production, OPEC’s smallest member has struggled to repay its debts, despite a controversial $280 million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2019.

While the country remains richer than South Africa and Botswana with per-capita gross domestic product of almost $8,500 in 2022, wealth is concentrated among the elite, and two-thirds of its almost 1.5 million people live in poverty.

Human rights groups have long accused Obiang’s family of squandering the country’s oil wealth. In 2020, a French court found Obiang’s son, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue — known as Teodorin — guilty of embezzlement. Foreign governments allege that he purchased a yacht, an armored Rolls-Royce and a glove worn by Michael Jackson with ill-gotten gains.

Officials have said the election was moved forward by five months in order to save money. But a more plausible explanation is to facilitate “the transition of power from autocratic Obiang to his jet-setter son Teodorin,” Maja Bovcon, analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, said in an emailed comment.

“This dynastic succession does not bode well for the future of Equatorial Guinea that has been struggling for years due to declining crude production and rampant corruption among its elite, including the ruling family,” she said.

Source- Hindustan Times.


Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


seventeen − sixteen =