News / Africa

Equatorial Guinea Opposition Cries Foul Over Constitutional Vote

Equatorial Guinea's long-time, autocratic President Teodoro Obiang Nguema (file photo)
Equatorial Guinea's long-time, autocratic President Teodoro Obiang Nguema (file photo)
Nico Colombant

Opposition to Equatorial Guinea's long-time, autocratic President Teodoro Obiang Nguema are crying foul, both inside and outside the country. This comes after the government said early results give clear passage to constitutional reforms submitted to voters on Sunday.  The changes would strengthen the oil-rich country's presidency.  

The main opposition leader in Equatorial Guinea Placido Mico called his government, in his words, "one of the most irrational dictatorships."
He said results which are being released by the government were prepared before any voting took place.

Another opposition leader, from the same small party the Convergence for Social Democracy, Pablo Mba Nsang, alleged there was ballot stuffing. He said pro-government voters had gone to the polls repeatedly, and had voted for others, including dead relatives.

Government officials say that so far, with more than three-fifths of the votes counted, 99 percent of voters backed the proposed constitutional changes.
The officials did not immediately respond to the accusations of irregularities. They called the vote peaceful.  Prior to the vote, government officials said the proposed changes were meant to put Equatorial Guinea on a path to greater democracy.

Voting results with more than 95 percent of votes for President Obiang and his ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea have been the norm in recent elections.  Mr. Obiang has been in power since a coup in 1979, making him Africa's longest-serving leader.

Human rights activist Joseph Kraus from the U.S.-based group Equatorial Guinea Justice says he fears the constitutional changes will make it more difficult to implement democracy.

"The reforms are effectively switching the governmental system from a parliamentary system to a presidential system," said Kraus. "[President] Obiang would have the authority to directly appoint the vice-president. It would also make him the head of a judicial body that would actually oversee the entire court system and he would be the head of that body which effectively erases any effort or any chance that there would be any checks and balances between the three branches of government."

The reforms also would establish a two-term limit on the presidency, but Kraus is afraid the 69-year-old Obiang will use the new changes as an opportunity to seek two more terms after his current one expires in 2016.   He also fears the president's son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, currently the agricultural minister, will eventually be chosen as vice-president.

Despite the current frustrations, Kraus says he and others at Equatorial Guinea Justice, including exiled activists, will continue their work for human rights, good governance and more civic participation.

"Given that there is a lack of independent media inside the country and that the government is very repressive and does not allow opposition voices to speak very loudly, we are positioned outside the country and we are able to actually push foreign governments as well as enable civil society activists on the ground inside the country to pressure President Obiang and his government for better governance," he said.

Investigations into allegedly misspent Equatorial Guinean government money are currently taking place in France, Spain and the United States.  
Despite the country's 15-year oil boom and the rise of average per capita income to above $18,000 annually, there is still widespread poverty in the former Spanish colony.  The United Nations says that less than half the population have access to clean drinking water.

Final results from Sunday's referendum are expected to be released Wednesday.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid