The world’s longest-serving president has won re-election in Equatorial Guinea to continue presiding over his authoritarian regime.
PresidentTeodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 80, secured almost 95 per cent of votes, officials announced six days after the vote.
“The results prove us right again,” Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the president’s son, said. “We continue to be a great party.” Some opposition candidates stood, but none were expected to win.
President Mbasogo has a strong grip on the oil-rich central African nation, with family members in key government roles. He seized power in 1979 after a military takeover and has survived several coup attempts.
Upon gaining office from his predecessor and uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, he made some reforms but retained Nguema’s absolute control over the nation.
Political opposition is barely tolerated and severely hampered by the lack of a free press, as all broadcast media are either owned outrightly by the government or controlled by its allies.
It is thought that President Mbasogo, who has previously denied accusations of human rights abuses and election rigging, intends to use his sixth term to clean up his international reputation.
In September, the government abolished the death penalty in a move which was praised by the United Nations. Equatorial Guinea has a history of what critics call fraudulent election results.
In 1968, Spanish Guinea gained independence and became the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, with Francisco Macias Nguema as president.
Rights groups have labelled the country’s two presidents – Francisco Macias Nguema and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – as some of the worst rights abusers in Africa.
The Spanish, French and Portuguese-speaking country discovered vast oil reserves in 1996, but much of the 1.4 million population has not benefitted from this, with poverty still rampant.
Equatorial Guinea is a small country on the west coast of Africa which struck oil in 1995 and is now being cited as a textbook case of the resource curse – or the paradox of plenty.