Newswire: Leader of Equatorial Guinea pursues 43rd year in power, in poll deemed neither free or fair

Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea

Oct. 17, 2022 (GIN) – Equatorial Guinea holds regular elections, but the voting is neither free nor fair. That is how Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization, has described the conditions of the upcoming poll.
Now the country with the world’s longest-standing leader is about to set a new record.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea plans to run for office again this November, extending a 43-year tenure that began when he took power in a coup in 1979.
Under the 80 year old Obiang, a country with every reason to be wealthy has instead been scarred by corruption, poverty, and repression. Instead of prosperity to share with the population, the nation’s vast oil revenues are funding lavish lifestyles for the small elite surrounding the president, while a large proportion of the population continues to live in poverty, says Human Rights Watch.
Term violations such as those committed by Obiang among others point up one of the weaknesses of the African Union, notes Paul Nantulya of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The AU, officially launched on July 9, 2002 in Durban, South Africa, marked its 20th anniversary this year and there is no dearth of criticism of the Union from scholars, analysts and journalists. 
African leaders seem ever more unwilling to lower the boom on undemocratic and repressive national figures as apparent in the lineup of flawed heads of state at the head of the AU over the years. They include Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia in 2013, Robert Mugabe in 2015, Idriss Deby of Chad in 2016, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania in 2014, Alpha Conde of Guinea in 2017, Paul Kagame of Rwanda in 2018 and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt, in  2019.
Alioune Tine, president of the Dakar, Senegal-based African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights commented upon the AU’s election of Obiang in 2011: “Neither the African Union nor Africans deserve a leader whose regime is notorious for abuses, corruption and a total disregard for the welfare of its people.” Tine is founder of the think tank AfrikaJom Center and a former Amnesty International Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
Some of the criticism of the AU is about poor governance, implementation problems and rising security issues,” observes Patricia Agupusi of American University. “It seems, too, that citizens of member states lack trust in the AU.
“Most of these criticisms are fair,” she acknowledged, “given that the AU was expected to carry Africa in to the future through the ideals of African renaissance and Pan Africanism. The mission statement spoke of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”.
“Based on my previously published research, the commitment of African leaders remains the most pressing obstacle to African renaissance and development.”
Meanwhile, Anacleto Micha Nlang, co-founder of the banned rights group “Guinea is also Ours” remains behind bars since his detention over two weeks ago after he assisted opposition activists when their party headquarters were besieged by police, his lawyer and wife told the AFP new service this week.
In addition to Mr. Micha’s arrest, police arrested hip-hop artist Leoncio Prisco Eco Mba, known as “Adjoguening”, Luis Nzo Ondo, Pablo Angüe Angono and Claudio Nzé Ntutumu. 
Amnesty International added their voice to the condemnation of Equatorial Guinea for “trampling on human rights… Authorities must immediately stop arbitrarily and indiscriminately arresting young men in their fight against alleged gang crime,” they declared.
“Security forces have initiated a wave of repression meant to silence dissent in the country ahead of local, parliamentary and presidential elections in Equatorial Guinea” said Andrea Ngombet from the Sassoufit Collective. “Anacleto, nor any other citizen does not deserve this type of treatment”. 

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