Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang Poised to Extend 37-year Rule

BATA, EQUATORIAL GUINEA—Africa’s longest serving president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, is widely expected to win another term in office. Results are expected this week from Sunday’s vote.

Three days after the poll, giant posters of President Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo are still plastered on buildings in the economic capital, Bata. 

By law, campaign materials were supposed to be taken down the day before the vote. 

The Obiang family has ruled the country since independence in 1968. The current president overthrew his uncle in a coup in 1979.  

Some voters are disappointed by the lack of alternatives. 

24-year-old university student Essono Sylvestre said he did not understand why the opposition parties did not complain that President Obiang was abusing the electoral code by distributing campaign material even on the day of the election. He said the opposition is helpless and behaving as if the President is a super candidate.

But the president’s niece, Prudencia Obiang, who worked on his campaign, said the population backs the president. 

She said he has made this one of the most prosperous nations in Africa and that only people who are ungrateful say Obiang is a dictator. She said most people call him the father of the nation because he is a humble and simple nation builder making his country proud.

Equatorial Guinea is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s top oil and natural gas producers. That coupled with its small population means the country has the highest per capita gross domestic product in Africa, according to 2014 UN figures, but it ranks low on the UN human development index. The country was ranked 138 out of 188 countries in 2015. 

The Obiang family has been the target of recent multimillion-dollar corruption investigations in the U.S. and Europe. 

The president has won the past five elections, never getting less than 95 percent of votes. All but one member of parliament is from the ruling party.

This year, the 73-year old leader faced six candidates, most of them new faces on the political scene. 

The country’s main opposition party, the CPDS, boycotted the poll, saying the electoral commission is biased.

CPDS vice secretary general Serge Ambomo said there was no democracy and freedom of speech in Equatorial Guinea. He said the opposition was denied access to state media that is funded by tax payers money and that the president manages every aspect of public life as if the country is his personal property.

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