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Equatorial Guinea
Politics | Society

Disappeared Equatoguinean opposition leader "is alive"

afrol News / El Muni, 21 April - During the last days, there have circulated rumours in the Spanish press about the disappearance of Severo Matías Moto Nsá, Equatorial Guinea's most prominent exiled opposition leader, including his possible assassination in an African country. While the Spanish government has mobilised its intelligence services to find out where Mr Moto has been during the last ten days, 'El Muni' today achieved a sign of life.

Sources contacted by 'El Muni' late this afternoon confirmed that Mr Moto "is alive" and currently is staying in a European country they did not wish to name. Other sources have pointed to Croatia. Meanwhile, a growing number of exiled Equatoguinean politicians in Spain are denouncing that they have received threatening and anonymous messages and telephone calls.

The alarming news on the presumed disappearance of Mr Moto was diffused on Monday by the Madrid-based Association for Democratic Solidarity with Equatorial Guinea, ASODEGUE. Several Spanish mass media began to speculate on the whereabouts of the politician, whose movements are controlled by the police after Spain's new socialist government promised the Equatoguinean President it would watch the activities of the exiled opposition to avoid further destabilisation attempts originating from Spanish soil.

During the last months, the Equatoguinean opposition based in the ex-colonial power has denounced that it feels unsafe in Spain. Further, they say, there exists an economic cooperation between the dictatorship of Equatorial Guinea and Spain's socialist government. The deal, they claim, has opened up for the participation of Spanish companies in the booming oil business in Equatorial Guinea, in exchange for neutralising the opposition based on Madrid, as requested by Malabo.

In March, officials of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke to the Equatoguinean opposition in a tone that was interpreted as "threats" and "intimidation", particularly against the self-proclaimed "government in exile" lead by Mr Moto and the Republican Democratic Force, FDR. The Spanish and Equatoguinean governments suspect both organisations are trying to destabilise the dictatorship of General Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

This feeling of insecurity has been accentuated after the rumours of the disappearance of Mr Moto. His Popular Party (PP) has yet to deny or confirm Mr Motos' disappearance. In a press release published today, the PP said that "Severo [Moto] fled from Spain, harassed by the dictatorship of Obiang and before the passivity of the Spanish government to guarantee his personal security."

The centrist PP further claims that the Spanish government is not complying with its duties to guarantee the physical security of exiled politicians according to the 1951 Geneva Convention. "The absolute and intolerable lack of minimum guarantees of security in the surroundings of ... [Mr Moto], forced him to take into account the possibility of finding asylum in other countries that maintain less friendly contacts with the regime of Obiang Nguema."

The Department of Communication at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs admitted, immediately, that the government was "concerned" about Mr Moto's disappearance, him being a refugee in Spain. As soon as the rumours had appeared, the Ministry had "used its contacts to verify that news." As 'El Muni' was published, the Ministry had not received any verification, but other sources consulted by 'El Muni' are absolutely certain that Mr Moto is alive.

In Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, the rumours have provoked certain allergy in presidential circles. The dictatorship follows the destiny of Mr Moto with much attention, according to contacted sources, although presidential spokesman Miguel Oyono mentioned it in a sarcastic tone: "We in Equatorial Guinea do not have any knowledge of that he is missing or anything like that."

This was the expected answer from the Equatoguinean presidency, which is requesting the head of Mr Moto and prefers him to be dead. The government of Equatorial Guinea claims that Mr Moto was the mastermind behind an alleged coup attempt in March 2004, where "mercenaries" were caught on Equatoguinean soil and in Zimbabwe, allegedly on their way to Malabo.

At the same time, several exiled Equatoguinean politicians in Spain during the last few days have told 'El Muni' that they have been intimidated by messages from anonymous individuals including death threats. This included Germán Pedro Tomo, leader of the exiled FDR party, who had received an anonymous call warning about "professional killers" following his steps.

Sources of the exiled opposition that were contacted by 'El Muni' have indicated, without giving details, that Spanish policemen infiltrating their organisation had told them about the detention of "five professional killers". The five allegedly were of Rumanian nationality, bought by the dictatorship of President Obiang to eliminate "dangerous" opponents in Spain.

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