Africa’s longest serving presidents: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea

November 20, 2017, 3:01 pm

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is the son of Santiago Nguema Eneme and María Mbasogo Ngui of the Esanguii clan in Akoakam. Obiang joined the military during Equatorial Guinea's colonial period and attended the military academy in Zaragoza, Spain. He achieved the rank of lieutenant after his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, was elected the country's first president. Under Macías, Obiang held various positions, including governor of Bioko and leader of the National Guard. He was also head of Black Beach Prison, notorious for severely torturing its inmates.

Obiang overthrew his uncle on 3 August 1979 in a bloody coup and placed him on trial for his actions, including the genocide of the Bubi people, over the previous decade. Macías was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad on 29 September 1979.

The new president relaxed some of the restrictions of his predecessor - such as a ban on the Catholic Church - but kept the absolute control he inherited. He declared that the new government would make a fresh start from Macías' brutal and repressive régime. He granted amnesty to political prisoners, and ended the previous régime's system of forced labor. However, he made virtually no mention of his own role in the atrocities committed under his uncle's rule.

Officials said Mr Obiang won more than 97% of the vote in presidential elections in December 2002. Opposition candidates had withdrawn from the poll, citing fraud and irregularities. Officials reported similar results following the November 2009 presidential elections. 

In July 2003, state-operated radio declared Obiang "the country's god" with "all power over men and things." It added that the president was "in permanent contact with the Almighty" and "can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell." He personally made similar comments in 1993. Macías had also proclaimed himself a god.

Abuses under Obiang have included "unlawful killings by security forces; government-sanctioned kidnappings; systematic torture of prisoners and detainees by security forces; life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; impunity; arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention."

In 2003, Obiang told his citizenry that he felt compelled to take full control of the national treasury in order to prevent civil servants from being tempted to engage in corrupt practices. Obiang then deposited more than half a billion dollars into more than sixty accounts controlled by himself and his family at Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C., leading a U.S. federal court to fine the bank $16 million for allowing him to do so.

The president's son, who is also the country’s vice president Teodoro 'Teodorin' Nguema Obiang, has been resisting attempts by the US administration to seize some $71 million worth of his assets, denying charges that they were obtained with allegedly corrupt funds taken from his country.

On 10 November 2010, the Supreme Court of France ruled that a complaint filed by Transparency International in France on 2 December 2008 was admissible to the court system there. The decision allowed the appointment of an investigating judge and a judicial inquiry into claims that Obiang used state funds to purchase private property in France. A 2010 article published in Forbes magazine suggested that Obiang gathered roughly $700 million of the country's wealth in US bank accounts.

Equitorial Guinea is Africa’s third largest oil producer but as at 2014 the country was ranked 138 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index for social and economic development.

In a recent Human Rights Watch interview, researcher Sarah Saadoun described the mismanagement and high-level corruption in Equatorial Guinea. Saadoun explained that the display of wealth by the president’s family and other officials next to such poverty shows a contrasting picture of a country’s poverty despite its obvious wealth.

“What we found—unequivocally—is that the government has violated its obligation to realize people’s right to health and education…and it is hampering the government’s ability to deliver education, health and clean water to Equatorial Guineans,” Saadoun stated.

Unless new reserves are found, the country’s oil will run out by 2035, a vast majority of the citizens will continue with untold level of economic hardship while a few who have benefited from the longest serving African leader will continue to leave in paradise. This is unjust, no country deserves this and nobody doing this should be encouraged

League of Justice