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Incumbent Obiang Declares Victory in Equatorial Guinea Vote

Incumbent Teodoro Obiang Nguema has declared himself the winner in Equatorial Guinea's presidential election.

Incumbent Teodoro Obiang Nguema has declared himself the winner in Equatorial Guinea's presidential election.  The government Web site announced the results, despite only a fraction of the votes having been counted.

President Teodoro Obiang has declared victory in Equatorial Guinea's presidential election.  Four candidates ran against Mr. Obiang, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea since taking power from his uncle in a 1979 coup.

Opposition leaders say Sunday's ballot was rigged and they will not accept the results.

Among them was Placido Minko Abogo of the Convergence for Social Democracy Party, which says one of its election officials was forced to sign off on a vote count at gunpoint.  Other opponents said government electoral officials took the voting papers of entire villages.

International Foundation for Electoral Systems regional director for Africa, Almami Cyllah, says the international community will not take the elections seriously until the opposition is truly allowed to participate.

"These elections would have been a turning point if the opposition had actually participated," Cyllah said.  "We would have felt that yes, things are moving in the right direction.  But the opposition felt that the elections were not going to be free and fair."

Equatorial Guinea's electoral commission is run by Mr. Obiang's interior minister.  The commission says the president's opponents have won just 0.04 to 0.05 percent of the vote each.

"It seems as if everything [is] in government, everything is government, everything is the president and it makes it a little difficult for those of us who are advocating for free, fair elections and transparent elections," Cyllah said. 

During his re-election campaign, Mr. Obiang assured the public that he would win 97.1 percent of the vote.  The electoral commission says he has won 96.7 percent, although official results are expected December 7.

Cyllah says that is suspicious.

"When the president predicts that he is going to win by 97.1 percent and that becomes true, it is a little difficult to see how we can say that those elections are free and fair," Cyllah said. 

Equatorial Guinea is one of the world's richest oil-producing countries with an annual oil revenue of $3 billion, but most of the population lives in dire poverty.

The anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International says Equatorial Guinea is the 12th most corrupt country in the world.  The group accuses President Obiang of using public money on fancy cars and luxury homes, while most Equatorial Guineans struggle to feed their families.  

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