Equatorial Guinea: World’s longest-serving leader looks set to secure new term after 43 years in power


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

The tiny authoritarian, oil-producing Central African state is led by President Teodoro Obiang, the world’s longest-reigning head of state, who wants to extend his 43-year rule.

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

“I am sure that the victory belongs to the PDGE”, he said in reference to his party.

Two opposition candidates are running: Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu, who has already run in five previous 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 67,196 counted so far. Counting will continue on Monday, a statement on the government website said.

More than 400,000 people registered to vote in the country of about 1.5 million, which is split between the island of Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea and a mainland coast between Cameroon and Gabon.

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

He said a semblance of fair voting was taking place in the island capital Malabo, but his party had evidence that officials elsewhere were voting on behalf of voters or forcing them to vote for the ruling party.

Equatorial Guinea’s government and electoral management officials could not be reached for comment.

Maja Bovcon, a senior analyst in Africa at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, said the outcome of the election was in no doubt: “The closing of borders and the harassment and arrests of opposition supporters have been paving the way for the extension of Obiang’s 43-year rule.”

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

Closing the campaign on Friday, Obiang said he decided to move the presidential election forward a few months and hold it together with legislative and municipal elections, to save money due to the economic crisis.

Oil and gas production accounts for around three-quarters of revenue in OPEC member states. But production has fallen in recent years to 93,000 barrels per day (bpd), from about 160,000 bpd in 2015, as oil fields mature.

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