Equatorial Guinea, a small central African country of 1.5 million people, is holding presidential elections this Sunday with virtually no suspense and with the current president, Teodoro Obiang, 80, the only favorite. The tight control over all the levers of the regime exercised by the president and the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PGDE), in power, turns these elections into just a formality for Obiang, the longest-serving head of state in the world, monarchies aside , after 43 years in the presidential chair.
The only opposition candidate running in these elections is Andrés Esono, from the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), aware that his chances of victory are practically nil. Buenaventura Monsuy, from the Party of the Social Democratic Coalition (PCSD), close to power, also appeared.
Equatorial Guinea is the only state in sub-Saharan Africa where Spanish is the official language, since it was a colony and then a Spanish province. The country is going through a serious crisis derived from the years of covid-19. It has also suffered because of the war in Ukraine, whose main impact is seen in the prices of basic products: last September the price increase was 4.2%.
Some 420,000 Equatorial Guineans are called to the polls this Sunday to elect a president for a new seven-year period, but also to renew the Congress, the Senate and the city councils, completely dominated by the PDGE and small allied parties. The Government brought forward the presidential elections, scheduled for 2023, to make them coincide with the legislative and municipal ones. In the last presidential elections, held in 2017, Obiang was elected with 94% of the votes, while in the 2016 legislative elections, the PDGE obtained percentages of over 90% and won all the seats in Congress and the Senate. except one, which fell to the opposition party Ciudadanos por la Innovación (CI).
The Equatoguinean economy is based above all on the export of oil, which began in the nineties of the last century and multiplied its Gross Domestic Product by forty. However, this wealth has not reached the majority of the population. According to Unicef, four out of ten Equatorial Guineans live in extreme poverty. The lack of democracy and scant transparency of the Obiang regime limit the control mechanisms over state accounts.
“A monumental fraud”
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The campaign for the elections this Sunday has been marked by an enormous deployment of the party in power, both in rallies and in the media, while Esono has repeatedly denounced through his Twitter profile the maneuvers of the PDGE and public television to prevent or make invisible their meetings with the militancy. This Friday, the only opposition candidate and leader of the CPDS assured in statements to Efe that “a monumental fraud” was being prepared, after verifying the withdrawal of electoral cards from the population in areas of the interior of the country.
On September 29, the forces of order broke into the main headquarters of the opposition party Ciudadanos por la Innovación (CI) through a violent police operation, whose leader, Gabriel Nsé, aspired to appear as a candidate in these elections. During the intervention some 200 militants were arrested, many of whom subsequently denounced torture, one policeman died according to the Government and nine members of CI, according to opposition sources and citizen associations. The options of appearing in the elections vanished for this party, which had already been outlawed in 2018 by court ruling after some 40 members of it were convicted of an alleged coup attempt. Until then, CI was the only opposition organization with parliamentary representation, a deputy in Congress.
With the CI out of the game and its main cadres in hiding or in prison, the only truly opposition party that is on the ballot for the elections to be held this Sunday is the CPDS. For its part, the PDGE is presenting itself in a coalition with 14 other small parties, traditional allies of the regime and called “the democratic opposition” by the regime. In the last rally held this Friday, Obiang himself called the leaders of this constellation of parties “brave” for “working alongside the Government and the PDGE for the consolidation of the nation’s genuine democratic process,” according to the website. of the Government, which ensures that “everyone hopes to obtain, as on previous occasions, an overwhelming victory on Sunday, November 20, throughout the national territory of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.”
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of Teodoro Obiang, vice president of the country and his father’s campaign manager, known as Teodoro Obiang Mangue, also participated in said rally. Theodorin and sentenced in 2017 by a French judge for corruption. All eyes are on the possible successor to Teodoro Obiang, who in recent years has been gaining positions within the government and the party and is shaping up to be the one chosen by the president to take over from him in power.
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