The leader of Equatorial Guinea is seeking an extension of his 43 years in power

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dated: 2022-11-20 11:14:21 .

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) – Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Africa’s longest-serving ruler, was poised Sunday to extend his 43-year rule in the oil-rich country after only two opposition candidates decided to challenge him.

Fourteen of the country’s opposition parties have allied with Obiang’s authoritarian regime, which critics have long accused of intimidation, torture and corruption. These critics also point to the questionable official results of past elections, which never showed Obiang receiving less than 90% of the vote.

On the streets of the capital Malabo, posters of the 80-year-old Obiang flooded public space in recent weeks with the message: “Vote for the right path, vote for continuity.” Only a few opposition posters were seen.

At a recent campaign rally in Mongomo last week, the president told the crowd, “Who’s your daddy?” He called on voters to keep him in power and warned of the risks of political upheaval.

“Some are preaching that there needs to be a change,” Obiang said. “Then we have to see the changes they want to bring. We do not know if they are for the benefit of the people or if they aim to create a catastrophic situation that can create an uncontrolled situation in the country.”

Despite its oil and gas wealth, Equatorial Guinea faces a dramatic gap between its privileged ruling class and a large part of the population, which earns its living primarily from subsistence agriculture.

Obiang seized power in a coup in 1979, ousting the country’s first president since independence from Spain in 1968. During the first years of his rule, Obiang ran a military dictatorship. He then oversaw a three-year transition to multiparty democracy that ended in 1993.

Since then, however, the strength of the country’s democratic institutions has been undermined by the president’s surprising electoral victories: after winning 99 percent of the vote in 1989, when the country was still a one-party state, he fell only slightly from 97.8 percent in 1996, 97.1 percent in 2002, 95.7 percent in 2009 and 93.7 percent in 2016.

Critics say Obiang has built a system of corruption unmatched in Africa and missed a golden opportunity to lift his country’s citizens out of poverty when oil reserves boosted the country’s gross domestic product by more than 5,000 percent.

Rights groups say the regime has also resorted to intimidation, torture and executions, going so far as to hunt down opponents and suspected conspirators in other countries and forcibly return them to Equatorial Guinea, where they are sentenced to death.

Obiang’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, known as Teodorin, came to epitomize the regime’s excesses, buying everything from timber companies to a rap record label to Michael Jackson memorabilia, though his father took him to the second promoted vice president, and observers speculated that he was being groomed for a successor.

Last year, a French court confirmed Teodorin’s conviction for money laundering and embezzlement of millions of public funds. A French court sentenced him to a three-year suspended prison sentence, fined him 30 million euros and ordered him to confiscate his assets in France worth tens of millions of euros.

The Associated Press

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The leader of Equatorial Guinea is seeking an extension of his 43 years in power

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