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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More