Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea recently secured another presidential term, effectively extending his long-standing regime.
The president won 95% of the votes following the country’s presidential election in a landslide victory. He is set to extend his already 4-decade long rule, making him the longest-serving president in the world.
Best democratic practice dictates that a president can only serve a maximum of two terms, adhering to a four-year administration per term. However, this is hardly the case for Equatorial Guinea as they’ve continued with the same regime for over 40 years now in what some have described as an authoritarian government.
Following the announcement of the results, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice president of the country and the president’s son, said, “the results prove us right again,” said Vice-President. We continue to be a great party.”
Even before his victory was announced people believed that none of the opposition stood a chance, seeing as the president has demonstrated his strong grip on the country since he seized power.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo took over the country in 1979 in a military coup, ousting his uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema. Since then, the octogenarian has been the target of numerous botched military takeovers, but has refused to abdicate. Here are some of the reasons why he does not want to relinquish power despite his frail age.
Mapping way for his son
Obiang’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, known as Teodorin, is widely seen as his successor, and has since ascended the ranks to the position of vice president.
In an interview ahead of the 2016 vote, the elder Obiang told the French-language Jeune Afrique magazine that this would be the last time he would run.
“I have been in power for too long, but the people want me to be their president,” he said. Asked whether Teodorin was being groomed for power, he said: “Equatorial Guinea isn’t a monarchy… but if he’s got talent, there’s nothing I can do.”
Speculation that he would hand over the reins in the upcoming vote gained pace as his public appearances became rarer. But those expectations were quashed after Teodorin was enveloped in scandals abroad and a conviction in France for ill-gotten gains – state assets acquired illegally.
France, Britain and the United States have ordered him to forfeit millions of dollars in assets, from mansions to luxury cars, while France also handed him a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of 30 million euros.
The storm, coinciding with a downturn in oil revenue and the economic blow inflicted by COVID-19, may have prompted the elder Obiang’s inner circle to advise against leadership change.
The PDGE unanimously chose Obiang as its candidate “because of his charisma, his leadership and his political experience”, Teodorin wrote on Twitter. The party’s election slogan, seen universally on posters and state TV, was “continuity”.
He seeks to cleanse his international reputation
In terms of international standing, President Obiang is regarded as a despot. The country’s constitution provides Obiang sweeping powers, including the right to rule by decree, effectively making his government a legal dictatorship. However, political observers suggest that the 80 year old dictator is now in pursuit of a cleaner international reputation and wants to use this ‘final’ tenure to achieve a better political legacy.
According to the BBC, “political opposition is barely tolerated and severely hampered by the lack of a free press, as all broadcast media is either owned outright by the government or controlled by its allies.
It is thought that President Obiang, who has previously denied accusations of human rights abuses and election rigging, intends to use his sixth term to clean up his international reputation.”