The United States government on Tuesday condemned Equatorial Guinea’s sham elections that gave the party of the longest serving President in the world Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 94.9% of the vote, saying that “we have serious doubts about the credibility of the announced results.”
Obiang’s party won all 100 seats in the National Assembly, all 55 seats in the Senate and all 588 municipal seats, according to results published on Saturday night by the National Election Commission. Obiang himself was re-elected for another term. He’s been in power for 43 years.
Some 419,817 people registered to vote in the elections with 413,148 actually voting. About 411,081 votes were considered as valid votes with 1,264 constituting null votes and 803 blank votes.
“The United States commends the people of Equatorial Guinea who exercised their right to vote on November 20. We note, however, that international election observers, civil society groups, and opposition parties have made credible allegations of significant election-related irregularities, including documented instances of fraud, intimidation, and coercion,” the U.S. government said in a statement.
It added, “These allegations include restrictions on the ability of representatives of political parties to access polling stations, repeat voting, pre-filling of Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) ballots, non-secret voting booths, and heavily armed soldiers within 20 meters of voting booths.
“We are also concerned by irregular counting practices that favor the party in power, including the counting of unopened ballots in favor of the PDGE and the counting of ballots without all political parties represented. These irregularities would violate Equatoguinean law. Given the scale of irregularities observed and the announced results giving the PDGE 94.9% of the vote, we have serious doubts about the credibility of the announced results.
“Elections are an opportunity for a government and political parties to tangibly demonstrate their commitment to democratic principles. We urge Equatoguinean authorities to work with all stakeholders – including the full spectrum of political organizations and non-partisan civil society organizations – to fully address these credible allegations of voter fraud and to take steps to permit the expression of diverse political perspectives.
Obiang, 80 years old, is the longest serving president in the world who has been in power for 43 years. A former military officer who has served as the second president of the central African nation since August 1979, he heads an authoritarian regime in Equatorial Guinea.
As the longest-serving president of any country ever and the second-longest consecutively-serving current non-royal national leader in the world, Obiang has been accused of corruption and human rights abuses. Under his rule, Equatorial Guinea continues to have one of the worst human rights records in the world.
Equatorial Guinea is currently a dominant-party state, in which Obiang’s PDGE holds virtually all governing power in the nation and almost all seats in the legislature. The constitution provides Obiang sweeping powers, including the right to rule by decree, effectively making his government a legal dictatorship.
In a statement on November 3 before the November 20 elections, the U.S. government said it was “concerned by reports of arrests and harassment of opposition members and civil society, and we urge the government to allow its citizens to freely and confidently express their preferences at the ballot box.”
“On the opening day of Equatorial Guinea’s electoral campaign season, the U.S. government calls on the government of Equatorial Guinea to honor its international commitments and constitutional principles by supporting a free and fair vote,” the government said in a statement.
It called on Equatorial Guinea to “cultivate a more inclusive, peaceful, and democratic society by ensuring the expression of diverse political perspectives, a free and fair voting process, and the protection of the human rights of all individuals.”
Who is Obiang?
After graduating from military school, Obiang held numerous positions under the presidency of his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, including director of the notorious Black Beach prison. He ousted Macías in a 1979 military coup and took control of the country as President and chairman of the Supreme Military Council junta.
After the country’s nominal return to civilian rule in 1982, he founded the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) in 1987 which was the country’s sole legal party until 1992. He has overseen Equatorial Guinea’s emergence as an important oil producer, beginning in the 1990s. Obiang was Chairperson of the African Union from 2011 to 2012.