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» 18.03.2011 - Africa defies AU chief's support for Ghaddafi
» 02.03.2011 - African Union chief: "No comment" on North Africa
» 01.02.2011 - New AU leader Obiang calls criticism un-African
» 31.01.2011 - Africa's worst dictator becomes AU leader
» 28.01.2011 - "Fake unity govt" in Equatorial Guinea
» 07.01.2011 - Record Zimbabwe debts to Equatorial Guinea
» 13.10.2010 - Equatorial Guinea opposition leader detained
» 23.09.2010 - Equatorial Guinea propaganda now reaches all homes

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Equatorial Guinea

No Equatoguinean reply on boat incident

afrol News, 2 July - There has yet been no Equatoguinean response to the formal protest from the Norwegian government almost one week ago, following an incident where the coast guard of Equatorial Guinea fired at a Norwegian research vessel. Norway demands an excuse and guarantees against similar incidents.

Acting spokesman of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Eirik Bergesen, told afrol News that there had still been no response from authorities in Equatorial Guinea to the formal Norwegian protest. In fact, it had been difficult to reach Equatoguinean authorities, Mr Bergesen disclosed.

- We have delivered our protest to the government of Equatorial Guinea, said Mr Bergesen. "But as our two countries do not have direct diplomatic contact, it was handed over from our UN delegation to their UN delegation," added the Norwegian spokesman.

Mr Bergesen said that the formal protest had included a demand for an apology from Equatoguinean authorities. "Further, we have demanded that [the research vessel] is let to return to Equatoguinean waters to carry on with its research work, now or at other occasions."

Norway now also wants guarantees for the safety of vessels carrying its banner in the waters of Equatorial Guinea, following the dramatic incident where the research vessel R/V "Dr Fridjof Nansen" was shot at by the nation's coast guard. "Dr Fridjof Nansen" was on a research mission for the UN agency FAO and had received a licence from Equatoguinean authorities to operate in the country's waters.

While Norwegian authorities wait for an official reply from Malabo, the "Dr Fridjof Nansen" has aborted its research mission, at least temporarily. "We are still waiting," said Mr Bergesen, adding that "we will not accept anything less than an apology and a guarantee that this will not happen again. We expect that we will not have to wait for a long time," the diplomat added.

According to the Norwegian spokesman, FAO had so far been more successful in getting Equatoguinean officials to react to the situation. Meeting FAO local representatives, Malabo authorities had been humble regarding the embarrassing incident.

Mr Bergesen gave no indications to whether the incident would influence on the loose plans to establish a Norwegian embassy in Malabo. While confirming this had been discussed in the Foreign Ministry, Mr Bergesen commented that these plans "have obviously not been realised yet."

The interest for Norway to establish an embassy in the Central African dictatorship stems from a common interest in the oil sector. Norway is one of the world's main oil producers with an advanced industry producing oil and gas related services and materials. Since Equatorial Guinea's recent entry to the world's oil producing nations, it has become one of the most important importers of Norwegian goods in Africa.

Despite the lack of democracy and the poor human rights standards in Equatorial Guinea, the booming Norwegian export to the country has not caused reactions in Norway. Equatoguinean opposition leader Plácido Micó recently told afrol News that Norwegian investments his country were undermining the pro-democracy process there. He urged Norwegian companies to stop trading with Equatorial Guinea.

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