Equatorial Guinea - Politics

Politics

The current president of Equatorial Guinea is Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The 1982 constitution of Equatorial Guinea, written following the 1979 deposition of dictator Francisco Macías Nguema and with help from the UN, gives the presidency extensive powers, including naming and dismissing members of the cabinet, making laws by decree, dissolving the Chamber of Representatives, negotiating and ratifying treaties and serving as commander in chief of the armed forces. The Prime Minister, Ignacio Milam Tang is appointed by the President and operates under powers designated by the President.

On Christmas 1975, Macías had 150 alleged coup plotters executed to the sound of a band playing Mary Hopkin's tune Those Were the Days in a national stadium. It is estimated that 100,000 people (approximately one-third of the population) were killed or fled into exile during Macías' reign.

President Obiang overthrew previous dictator Francisco Macías Nguema on 3 August 1979 in a bloody coup d'état. Since August 1979 some 12 real and perceived unsuccessful coup attempts have occurred. The 'real' coup attempts were often perpetrated in an attempt by rival elites to seize the state's economic resources.

Under President Obiang, the U.S. Agency for International Development entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, in April 2006, to establish a Social Development Fund in the country, implementing projects in the areas of health, education, women's affairs and the environment.

Since 2005, Military Professional Resources Inc., a U.S. based international private military company, has worked in Equatorial Guinea to train police forces in appropriate human rights practices. In February 2010, Equatorial Guinea signed a contract with the MPRI subsidiary of the US defense corporation, L3 Communications for coastal surveillance and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Although President Obiang signed a national anti-torture decree in 2006 to ban all forms of abuse and improper treatment in Equatorial Guinea and commissioned the renovation and modernization of Black Beach prison in 2007 to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners, human rights abuses continue. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among other non-governmental organizations have documented severe human rights abuses in prisons, including torture, beatings, unexplained deaths and illegal detention.

Under President Obiang, the basic infrastructure of Equatorial Guinea has also improved. Asphalt now covers more than 80% of the national roads and ports and airports are being built across the entire country. Progress of this increase in infrastructure was confirmed in October 2011 when a British parliamentary delegation and press entourage toured the country as guests of the president. However, despite all the new infrastructure there were very few of its citizens who seemed to have access to it, with reports of empty three lane highways and many empty buildings during the course of the tour according to a journalist who represented The Guardian newspaper who formed part of the press entourage.

According to a March 2004 BBC profile, politics within the country are currently dominated by tensions between Obiang's son, Teodorin, and other close relatives with powerful positions in the security forces. The tension may be rooted in power shift arising from the dramatic increase in oil production which has occurred since 1997.

A November 2004 report named Mark Thatcher as a financial backer of a 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt to topple Obiang, organized by Simon Mann. Various accounts also name the United Kingdom's MI6, the United States' CIA, and Spain as having been tacit supporters of the coup attempt. Nevertheless, the Amnesty International report released in June 2005 on the ensuing trial of those allegedly involved highlighted the prosecution's failure to produce conclusive evidence that a coup attempt had actually taken place.

Simon Mann was released from prison on 3 November 2009 for humanitarian reasons. The presidential decree pardoning Mann from prison cites concerns about his physical health and the need for him to receive ongoing care in his home country.

President Obiang was re-elected to serve an additional term in 2009 in an election deemed by the African Union as “in line with electoral law”. The President reappointed Prime Minister Ignacio Milam Tang and installed a new government in Equatorial Guinea on 12 January 2010.

The new government is dedicated to strengthening the “cooperation and friendship” with the Barack Obama administration. During a meeting on the sidelines of the recent United Nations General Assembly, President Obiang urged President Obama to institute a U.S–Africa summit, to strengthen the cooperation between the United States and Africa.

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