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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid