- Although the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea won 100 percent of the May general election's votes, the opposition maintains that the voting was corrupt, as well as polluted by irregularities and harassment.
Prior to the election, it had been expected that President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo would inevitably win, like he had been in every poll since the 1979, when he overthrew his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema - the country's first president - and killed him, in a military coup.
A few days before the results were announced, the Secretary-General of the opposition Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS) Plácido Micó Abogon, slammed elections as a repetition of what the government had been doing over the years.
He argued that random procedures prevailed in most polling stations. Mr Micó cited the disappearance of ballot papers and the failure to replace those that had ran out as some of the notable irregularities. He also claimed that CPDS representatives were harassed in polling stations.
An early legislative election was held in Equatorial Guinea on 4 May this year, at the same time as local elections. The 100 seats in parliament, together with 230 local councillor seats, were to be elected. However, the President dissolved parliament in February 2008, announcing that the legislative election, initially scheduled for 2009, was being brought forward by one year along with the local elections on 4 May, as a money saving scheme.
Before the election, the PDGE and its ally parties held 98 of 100 seats in parliament and over 200 of 230 municipal council seats. They were of course expected to win overwhelmingly, which they did.
To ensure smooth voting process, the use of alcohol was banned from the night before the election through the Election Day.
This Central African state, which was originally a Spanish colony, became independent on 12 October 1968. Since then, it has been led by only two presidents, both Nguemas. Macias Nguema who became the country's first president after independence was the former mayor of Mongomo. His successor and nephew Obiang who is a former army chief, has been Equatorial Guinea's second president since the 1979 coup.
This third largest sub-Saharan crude oil exporter earns about US$ 3 billion a year from oil, which should give it an annual per capita income of around US$ 50,000, according to Global Witness, a group that tracks corruption in resource-rich developing countries. However, most of its half-million people live in adverse poverty, and government officials are accused of draining off oil revenue.
Before leaving, the Spanish had done well to build the country's economy and infrastructure through extensive production of cocoa, coffee and timber. But after independence, Macias Ngeuma brought it to its knees by completely ruining the economy and enslaving the people. With the help of his extended family and the Mongomo clan, he controlled the public coffers like a personal property.
Macias Nguema became one of the world’s most villainous dictators, marked in the same bracket with Uganda’s notorious Idi Amin. Although current President Obiang brought an end to some of his uncle atrocities, he however carried on as a totalitarian dictator, as well as continued sharing power only with members of his extended family like his predecessor.
Pressure from the Spanish and US governments, as well the EU coerced Obiang to install a democratisation process, in spite of the fact that the country was ill prepared for democracy.
But it is documented that President Obiang rigged all past elections in his favour and his ruling PDGE party. International pressure to lessen the tense hold on his nation caved in when Equatorial Guinea's vast oil wells were discovered in the last decade. The country currently has Africa's highest economic growth rates, with the third or fourth highest GDP/capita in the continent.
Nonetheless, its people have not benefited in anyway from their oil, instead, poverty runs havoc and the inflation rate keeps skyrocketing.
It is believed that Obiang, who is said to be having cancer, is to be contemplating to step down in favour of his son Teodorín, who serves as the Forestry Minister in Malabo.
Although there are a number of opposition groups in Equatorial Guinea, most are considered futile, while others operate in exile. The only stern opposition in the country comes from the CPDS spearheaded by Plácido Micó. The most international known is the Progress Party and its Madrid-based "exiled government of Equatorial Guinea", headed by Severo Moto, who is believed to be responsible for countless fruitless coup attempts rife in the country.
The 1982 constitution of Equatorial Guinea gives the President extensive powers, ranging from appointing and sacking members of the cabinet, making laws by decree, dissolving the Chamber of Representatives, negotiating and ratifying treaties to calling legislative elections. The President is the commander in chief of the armed forces and Minister of Defence, and he watches over military affairs with an eagle's eye.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and operates under powers designated by the President. The Prime Minister coordinates government activities in areas other than foreign affairs, national defence and security.
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