NEW YORK (IDN | GIN) – After the disputed re-election of the longest-serving ruler of Equatorial Guinea in April 24 polls, opposition leaders and local organizations decried it as “not credible.”
According to the election results supervised by a minister of his own party, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo swept the polls with nearly 94% of the vote.
But most known members of the opposition were either barred from participating or boycotted the elections in protest. An African news team – Africa24 – was reportedly detained for hours at the airport despite having the proper paperwork from the Information Ministry.
With his victory, the 73-year-old President Obiang – who has already served 37 years - will serve another 7-year term.
Because the country is oil-rich, the government has friends around the world. Critics, however, point to the country’s poverty index – ranking 144 out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ 2014 Human Development Index.
Still, praises for the re-elected leader have rolled in from as far as Russia and China. “Moscow hopes that Equatorial Guinea will continue on the way of stable development following recent elections,” the Russian Foreign Ministry was quoted to say in Sputnik News.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also sent good wishes to the president. “I attach great importance to the development of the China-Equatorial Guinea relationship,” he said.
Except for the U.S. oil companies doing business there, Washington’s engagement has moved little beyond the observation of the former U.S. Ambassador John Bennett who said it is unfair to even refer to the voting process there as a true election when it is really nothing more than a "re-enthronement".
An unofficial delegation of U.S. notables including former senator Carol Moseley Braun and the Rev. Jesse Jackson made a recent visit, along with a U.S. skipper, Victor Mooney, who crossed the Atlantic in a solo voyage. His boat, donated by the government of Equatorial Guinea, was called “Spirit of Malabo” – the country’s capital.
Mooney, of Queens, NY, was decorated at a ceremony earlier this year. He received Equatoguinean nationality for his family and a house in Oyala – a city being built to replace Malabo.
EG Justice, which calls itself “an independent voice for reform in Equatorial Guinea”, in an open letter, called on the Rev. Jackson to speak out for basic freedoms for the country’s people during his visit.
“Rev. Jackson has been at the center of the struggle for civil rights… He knows too well the importance of protecting citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly and protest,” said Tutu Alicante, executive director of EG Justice.
“The Obiang government uses visits by prominent leaders to legitimize his 37-year misrule and lopsided elections. The least Reverend Jackson can do is to press President Obiang to stop targeting activists and others who speak out against him.” [IDN | INPS – 9 May 2016]
Photo: U.S. President Obama and Obiang with their wives in 2009 at a reception in New York. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
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