Equatorial Guinea president to run again to extend 43-year rule

The world’s longest-standing leader, President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, will run for the office again in November elections, his party announced on Friday, likely extending a 43-year tenure that began when he snatched power in a 1979 coup.

The rule of President Mbasogo, 80, has been marked by torture of political opponents, sham elections, and corruption, rights groups and foreign powers say. President Obiang denies such charges.

Under him, the West African country has become increasingly reclusive and reliant on oil and gas, which provide about three quarters of the state’s revenues. The money lines the pockets of those close to the president while the majority of the citizens live in poverty, rights groups say.

His son, Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Mangue, a jet-setter with a love for parties, fast cars, and jewelry, and who was convicted of embezzlement by a French court in 2020, said on Twitter on Friday that his father had been nominated to run again “due to his charisma, leadership and political experience”.

Another term will bring fresh challenges. The economy was knocked back by COVID-19 pandemic and a drop in oil prices, although the Russia invasion of Ukraine and the resulting need for non-Russian oil and gas may help spur growth.

Widespread poverty remains. That was laid bare when a series of explosions at an army barracks flattened a part of the coastal city of Bata last year, killing about 100 people and triggering an aid response from former colonial power, Spain. -Reuters

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