An Equatorial Guinea cabinet minister says President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s government wants to strengthen “cooperation and friendship” with the Barack Obama administration.
On his recent trip to the United States, Foreign Minister Pastor Micha Ondo Bile said criticism of President Mbasogo’s rule by the international media is misplaced and shows a lack of understanding of Equatorial Guinea’s growing democracy.
“My objective is to strengthen the relationship of cooperation and friendship with the United States of America, and above all with the Obama Administration…and as such the United States is now the most important partner of Equatorial Guinea. As a result, my visit to Washington is to hold meetings and exchange impressions of how we can further strengthen these relationships of friendship and of cooperation with our friend, the United States of America,” he said.
In 2008, an American journalist Peter Maas called the Equatorial Guinea leader Africa’s worst dictator, worse than Zimbabwe’s embattled President Robert Mugabe -- a charge the government denies.
Opposition groups also complained of fraud after incumbent President Mbasogo was declared winner of the 2009 presidential election with over 90 % of the total vote.
Mico Abogo, leader of the opposition Convergence for Social Democracy Party (CPDS) denounced President Mbasogo’s government as oppressive adding that it won elections only through fraud.
But supporters of the government say the opposition criticism shows the administration’s commitment towards ensuring freedom of speech and association in Equatorial Guinea.
Critics of the administration also say the government has failed to improve the country’s poor or non-existing infrastructure despite its enormous oil wealth.
But Foreign Minister Ondo Bile said the government is “judiciously” using the oil wealth to aggressively improve Equatorial Guinea’s infrastructure.
“We have already been able to construct asphalt of more than 80% of the national roads. We are building a basic infrastructure which includes the ports and airports in the entire national region. Equatorial Guinea now has the best healthcare facilities in the (Central African) region. We have built hospitals in every 80 kilometers of road in the country. Our priority is education. We created a national university which last year produced the first 110 national doctors. I think that within the next five years, Equatorial Guinea will be self-sufficient in national doctors,” Ondo Bile said.
Foreign Minister Ondo Bile further said that during a meeting on the sidelines of the recent United Nations General Assembly, President Mbasogo urged President Obama to institute a U.S–Africa summit, which he said will strengthen the cooperation between the United States and Africa.