EQUATORIAL GUINEA: The world’s longest-ruling leader appears poised to secure a new term after 43 years in power



CNN

Preliminary election results released by the government of Equatorial Guinea on Monday showed that the ruling party won more than 99% of the votes counted so far in Sunday’s presidential, legislative and municipal elections.

The small, authoritarian, oil-producing country in Central Africa is run by President Teodoro Obiang, the world’s longest-ruling head of state, who is seeking to extend his 43 years in office.

“What you plant is what you reap,” said Obiang, 80, who has regularly won more than 90 percent of the vote in elections held over five terms since he seized power from his uncle in a 1979 coup.

“I am sure that the victory will go to the Democratic Progress Party,” he said, referring to his party.

Two opposition candidates are running: Buenaventura Monsoy Asumu, who has already stood in the previous five elections, and Andrés Esono Ondo, who is running for the first time.

Early partial results showed the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) and Obiang’s coalition with 67,012 votes out of the 67,196 votes counted so far. A statement on the government’s website said the count would continue on Monday.

More than 400,000 people registered to vote in the country of 1.5 million people, which is divided between the island of Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea and the coastal mainland wedged between Cameroon and Gabon.

“It’s a complete fraud,” Esono Ondo told Reuters by phone, adding that his party would challenge the result in court.

He said some semblance of fair voting is taking place in the island’s capital, Malabo, but his party has evidence of officials elsewhere casting ballots on behalf of voters or forcing them to vote for the ruling party.

Government and officials at the Equatorial Guinea Electoral Directorate could not be reached for comment.

The outcome of the election is beyond doubt, said Maja Pofkon, senior analyst for Africa at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft: “Border closures and harassment and arrests of opposition supporters pave the way for Obiang’s 43-year extension of the rule.”

The United States and the European Union called for free and fair elections and raised concerns about reports of harassment and intimidation of opposition groups and civil society. The government rejected the accusations, describing them as interference in its electoral process.

Concluding his election campaign on Friday, Obiang said he had decided to bring the presidential elections forward by several months and hold them alongside legislative and municipal elections, to save money due to the economic crisis.

Oil and gas production accounts for about three-quarters of revenues in the OPEC member country. But production has dwindled in recent years to around 93,000 bpd from around 160,000 bpd in 2015 as oil fields mature.

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