Campaigning is taking place in the Central African oil-rich, tightly government-controlled former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea for legislative and municipal elections on May 4. But on the island of Bioko, in the capital Malabo, outside of ruling party circles, there is little enthusiasm for the process and lots of skepticism. VOA's Nico Colombant reports.
A ruling party worker shouts out instructions as dozens of campaign workers file into sticker, pamphlet and balloon-filled vehicles.
They drive across dusty streets, many of them being repaved by foreign workers, blaring out slogans indicating the ruling party is the best choice for stability and future development.
Outside ruling party headquarters, a press conference by a top official is being played over loudspeakers, but no one seems to be paying attention.
State television has been broadcasting programs showing new roads being built, with residents praising President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Musical programs have women dancing on beaches with dresses that have large portraits of the president.
Mr. Nguema has been in power since deposing his uncle in 1979.
In the last legislative election, the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea, known by its acronym PDGE, won 98 out of 100 seats.
The local socialist party, known by its acronym, CPDS, won the other two seats.
At a small opposition rally in a downtown plaza, a party official says young people must reclaim the country from a small oil-rich elite, and try to make their votes count for development for all.
One young militant, Robert, explains the party's slogan.
"The meaning of "Vence tu Miedo" is win your fear, win your fear, something like destroy your fear, so do not be afraid," he said. "Because, in my place, the place I am living, in my area, some PDGE people force some people to assist to their meeting, they force the people. So many people, they are afraid to vote and sometimes when we have elections here, there is some military they are doing intimidation."
He says it is important to take part in the election process, but that he also feels used, when results do not seem to reflect people's opinions.
"The president is just lying to the international community so people can think that he is making democracy, he is making elections," said Robert. "He is just closing the eyes of the international opinion like United States, U.N., European community and so on."
"It is a game to benefit from all those organizations. They are going to think o.k. this president is a good man. He is making elections in the country. It is a lie. It is a trick," he added.
When state television comes to film the rally, Robert covers his face with his hands, afraid he will be recognized by government agents. Opposition activists say there is also large scale fraud when elections take place. Ruling party officials deny this.