afrol News, 15 March - On Thursday, two high officials disappeared in Equatorial Guinea, and one fears for their lives. The two were last seen as they were taken to the presidential palace, but the government denies it knows anything about their whereabouts.
The two disappeared are Felipe Ondó Obiang, ex-President of the House of Representatives of the People and founder of the party Democratic Republican Force (FDR) and his cousin Emilio Ndongo Nchama, prominent member of the Popular Union (UP).
Credible sources in Malabo, the country's small capital, claim that Ondó and Ndongo have been tortured in Malabo, but they later were transferred to Bata, the country's second town, on the mainland. Opposition members further claim the two were seen in Bata and showed clear signs of torture. They were allegedly being detained in the official residence of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Antonio Mbá Nguema, the director of National Security and a brother of President Obiang, however answered the claims by stating that "no detained person or prisoner can enter any presidency and in the police station, there is nobody." Mbá made his statement in response to a declaration by Plácido Micó, Secretary-General of the opposition party Group for Social Democracy (CPDS). Micó from Malabo told the Spanish news agency EFE that "they took Ondó and Ndongo to the presidential precincts."
Also the Secretary of International Relations of the CPDS, Celestino Bakale, from Madrid (Spain) yesterday confirmed that presidential security forces had entered a house where the two disappeared opposition politicians had been. They were brought to an unknown place, Bakale said.
Felipe Ondó Obiang, 62, voluntary left his office as head of the Equatoguinean Assembly and went into Gabonese exile in 1965, registered as a political refugee in the neighbouring country. Disregarding his status, Ondó and his colleague Guillermo Nguema Elá were detained in Libreville in November 1997 by Gabonese security forces and surrendered to the Inspector General of the Equatoguinean Armed Forces, Agustín Ndong Oná. Ndong is also a cousin of President Obiang.
Brought back to Malabo, the abducted refugees were secretly held detained in a military quarter of the Moroccan presidential guards, commonly known as "Rabat", in inhumane conditions, without food and cloths. According to the exiled Equatoguinean opposition group RENAGE, in "Rabat" torture is a daily event and includes electric shocks on the genitals.
When the two finally were brought to court, they were charged with having made "false accusations" against the Head of State. On 14 May 2000, they were set free after having served a six month prison sentence and paid a fine of 700,000 francs CFA.
Various opposition members hold that the new disappearance of Ondó and Ndong only are the beginning of what seems to be a renewed campaign of intimidation against diverging political environments. This is set in the context of the aspirations of President Obiang to win the presidential elections, set to take place at the end of this year or at the beginnings of 2003.
Except for the 1968 elections, leading the Spanish ex-colony into independence, there have not been any free elections in the country, ridden by two succeeding dictatorships.
Sources: La Diáspora, EFE, RENAGE and afrol archives