Equatorial Guinea: The world’s longest-serving leader faces a new term after 43 years in power



CNN

Preliminary election results released by the Equatorial Guinea government on Monday showed that the ruling party won over 99% of the votes counted so far in presidential, parliamentary and local elections held on Sunday.

The tiny, authoritarian, oil-producing Central African state is ruled by President Teodoro Obiang, the world’s longest-serving head of state, who is seeking to extend his 43-year tenure.

“What you sow is what you reap,” said Obiang, 80, who has regularly won more than 90 percent of the vote in elections conducted over the course of five terms since he took power in a 1979 coup had taken over from his uncle.

“I’m sure the victory is for the PDGE,” he said, referring to his party.

Two opposition candidates are running: Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu, who has stood in the last five elections, and Andrés Esono Ondo, who is running for the first time.

Preliminary results showed that Obiang’s ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) and coalition garnered 67,012 votes from a previous 67,196. The count will continue on Monday, a statement on the government website said.

More than 400,000 people have registered in the country of about 1.5 million people, which is split between the island of Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea and a coastal mainland between Cameroon and Gabon.

“It’s a total fraud,” Esono Ondo told Reuters over the phone, saying his party will challenge the outcome in court.

He said there was some semblance of fair voting taking place in the island’s capital, Malabo, but his party had evidence officials elsewhere were casting ballots on behalf of voters or forcing them to vote for the ruling party.

Government and Equatorial Guinea Electoral Directorate officials could not be reached for comment.

Maja Bovcon, a senior Africa analyst at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, said the election result was beyond doubt: “The closure of borders and the harassment and arrests of opposition supporters have paved the way for the extension of Obiang’s 43-year rules.”

The United States and the European Union called for free and fair elections and expressed concern at reports of harassment and intimidation of opposition and civil society groups. The government dismissed the allegations as interference in its electoral process.

Concluding his campaign on Friday, Obiang said he had decided to bring forward the presidential election by several months and hold it together with general and local elections to save money due to the economic crisis.

Around three quarters of the OPEC member state’s income comes from oil and gas production. But production has dwindled to around 93,000 barrels per day (bpd) in recent years, from around 160,000 bpd in 2015, as oil fields mature.

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