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Equatorial Guinea
Politics | Society

Exiled Equatoguinean leader "was kidnapped"

Severo Moto showing his old Spanish identity card at the Madrid press conference.

© afrol News /
afrol News / El Muni, 5 May
- The leader of Equatorial Guinea's self-declared "government in exile", Severo Moto Nsa, is back in Spain after having "disappeared" for several weeks. Mr Moto told the press in Madrid that he had staid in Croatia, where there was an alleged attempt to kidnap and kill him. The Equatoguinean had left Spain fearing for his "physical safety" after his host country intensified its cooperation with Equatorial Guinea.

Mr Moto said he was to meet with Spanish police officers in Madrid yesterday to inform them of "suspicions" regarding a kidnap attempt he suffered in Zagreb, Croatia, which almost cost him his life. The kidnappers allegedly had taken him into a luxury yacht on the Adriatic Sea, where they planned to throw him into the water to drown without leaving indications on how he had disappeared, he told the press.

The Equatoguinean exile now however is safe and had returned to Spain on 29 April, arriving from the Croatian capital, Zagreb. There, he revealed at a well-visited Madrid press conference, kidnappers had attacked him on 20 April, trying to kill him.

The rumours of his disappearance, which hit the Spanish press in the last week of April, were confirmed by the politician himself. He says he believes that "some official" from the Equatoguinean dictatorship and the Spanish secret service were behind the plot, from which he only barely managed to escape as the kidnappers withdrew in the last moment.

All this had occurred on 20 April. Mr Moto had left Spain on 19 April, being concerned over his "physical safety" and to find a country that had less contact with the Equatoguinean dictatorship to ask for political asylum and for support of his political project. "I needed to find a place where the assassinating arm of [President Teodoro] Obiang does not reach me so soon and so close," he explained.

Journalists at the press conference insisted on getting all details on how he had managed to save his life, and Mr Moto explained that he later was told that his kidnappers had doubts in their boss and feared the consequences. During the kidnapping, which lasted for more than one week, the politician claims to have registered that his captors were receiving telephone calls, some from Spain, asking for proof of their crime. Mr Moto further noted that Croatians were good Catholics, like himself.

More than this is currently not known about the truth of Mr Moto's alleged kidnapping, or of who his alleged kidnappers represented. Mr Moto urged Spanish and Croatian authorities to take charge of the case and launch an investigation into it.

Sources close to Mr Moto, contacting 'El Muni', claim that the conspiracy failed because President Obiang allegedly does not want to pay a price for the head of the exiled leader. The kidnappers allegedly had refused to kill Mr Moto as the payment from the Equatoguinean President - said to be US$ 10 million - failed to appear.

The press conference of the exiled leader, according to some journalists at the site, was one of the many "strange" acts of Mr Moto, who is used to ample press coverage. This news story however got a minimised coverage in the Spanish press. Mr Moto's followers hold that Spanish media only had taken advantage of the rumours of his disappearance to demonise him and to present him as a coup-maker or mercenary in search of arms.

The majority of Spanish media related the supposed disappearance of Mr Moto to his coup intentions and wrote, without quoting sources, that "this journey did not have anything to do with asking for political asylum, but with interviewing person that would facilitate him the means of organising a 'new' coup d'état" in Equatorial Guinea. Mr Moto's followers claim the Spanish press is "sensationalist" and supporting the dictatorship in demonising the exiled opposition.

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