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The United States government on Thursday called on the administration of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longest serving president in the world who has been in power in Equatorial Guinea for 42 years, to hold free and fair elections.
Obiang, who heads an authoritarian regime in Equatorial Guinea, is a former military officer who has served as the second president of the central African nation since August 1979.
He is the longest-serving president of any country ever and the second-longest consecutively-serving current non-royal national leader in the world.
He 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.
Obiang has placed family members in key government positions and has recently been trying to penetrate the Washington establishment with lobbyists and paid media partners whom he lavishes with stolen and diverted oil money.
His recent focus has been to attack American companies doing business in Equatorial Guinea and divert attention from his own corruption by pushing the narrative that oil money is mainly being stolen by American companies and partners.
In a statement on Thursday, the U.S. government said it “has been 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.”
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.