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Rumors Denied of Attempted Coup in Equatorial Guinea - 2003-11-02

A spokesman for the government of Equatorial Guinea has appeared on national television, denying rumors of an attempted coup.

Rumors of an attempted coup have been circulating around the capital, Malabo, for several days. Now the government is seeking to bring closure to the situation.

A government spokesman, Antonio Fernando Nve Ngu, denounced the rumors on national radio and television. He did so in the interests of, "the peaceful cohabitation of the people of Equatorial Guinea, political, economic, social and cultural activity, and so that the country could return to normal."

Previous categorical denouncements of a coup attempt have failed to quell rumors that security forces turned on their own leaders, and staged an attempted overthrow last week.

Nicknamed the Kuwait of Africa, Equatorial Guinea is a small nation, but one rich in oil. Offshore oil finds are fast being exploited and Equatorial Guinea is set to become the third largest oil-producing nation in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola.

The U.S. Energy Department's information arm, in a report issued in September, found that, despite rapid growth in real gross domestic product figures, there was strong evidence of government misappropriation of oil revenues in Equatorial Guinea.

Human rights groups and political groups have expressed concern that Washington has decided to reopen its diplomatic mission there, despite its own evidence that the government is misappropriating oil funds.

Equatorial Guinea is a former Spanish colony. President Obiang Nguema's government is filled with members of his family, and about 20 opposition parties have been forced to operate in exile.