Equatorial Guinea: Teodoro Obiang re-elected after 43 years in power, a world record

With more than 43 years, he holds the world record for longevity in power for a living head of state, excluding monarchies. The President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, was unsurprisingly re-elected with 94.9% of the vote for a 6th term on Saturday in this small Central African oil state with one of the most closed and authoritarian regimes in the world.

Already re-elected in 2016 with 93.7% of the vote, he seemed to be preparing a dolphin in recent years, one of his sons, Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, alias Teodorin, an inveterate jet-setter known for his luxurious lifestyle. and sentenced in France in the “ill-gotten gains” case.

At 80, the head of state had been limiting his public appearances for two years when Teodorin was taking more and more light as the patriarch faded away. The all-powerful and feared Vice-President Teodorin, in charge of Defense, did not, however, give up appearing on social networks surrounded by naiads or at the wheel of racing cars as rare as they are expensive.

In mid-December 2021, everyone expected the ruling party to nominate him as a candidate in place of his father. But the caciques of this clan power, as well as the close guard of Teodoro Obiang, judged that it was too early and too provocative to officially propel him as successor at a time when the fall in hydrocarbon revenues since 2014 and the Covid-19 pandemic made his country even more dependent on foreign aid and funding. The Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) then decided, against all odds, not to appoint anyone yet and it was only two months before the election that the Head of State returned.

He says he foiled 10 coup attempts

“I have been in power for too long but the people still want me to be their president. This is the last time that I will appear”, he had however entrusted to the weekly Jeune Afrique just before his re-election in 2016. Then titillated on the succession prepared for Teodorin, he had retorted: “Equatorial Guinea is not not a monarchy, (…) but I can’t help it if he has talent”.

The very austere Teodoro Obiang – the opposite of his son – is reputed to lead an ascetic life, have a healthy lifestyle and practice sports daily. On August 3, 1979, it was by arms, with officers, that he overthrew his uncle, the bloodthirsty dictator Francisco Macias Nguema, shot two months later.

He kept the fear of the coup d’etat. His praetorian guard is made up of soldiers from his clan reputed to be loyal but – one can never be too careful – his closest bodyguards are Israelis and the security of the palace is partly entrusted to Zimbabweans and Ugandans.

Since coming to power, he claims to have thwarted at least ten coup or assassination attempts and, to each, Malabo has responded with increased repression, pell-mell accusing the opposition in exile and “foreign powers “.

oil and corruption

Teodoro Obiang, first head of a country without great resources and treated smugly by other African presidents, benefited from the discovery of oil in territorial waters in the early 1990s. The cards are reshuffled, the country enriches. In 2021 this country, very sparsely populated, is the third richest in Africa in GDP per capita, according to the World Bank, but the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few families, a very large majority of the 1.4 million people. people living below the poverty line.

Equatorial Guinea is regularly cited by NGOs as one of the countries where corruption is highest. Teodorin Obiang was thus definitively sentenced to a three-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 30 million euros in a case of “ill-gotten gains” in July in France, his assets are frozen and he is prohibited from staying in the United Kingdom. United since 2021 for “corruption” and “embezzlement of public funds” in his country and had to give up $26 million in assets in the United States to end corruption prosecutions the same year.

In this small country willingly nicknamed by the detractors of the Obiang the “North Korea of ​​Africa”, the arrests or disappearances of opponents are frequent, and many of them have found refuge abroad, in particular in Spain, former colonial power.

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