- Equatorial Guinea's presidency today denied rumours "put out by the exiled opposition" that President Teodoro Obiang Nguema had "died or fallen in irreversible coma." His spokesmen say the rumours were "false", but the President himself has yet to make a public appearance.
The opposition group "Democrats for Change" yesterday evening claimed to have been in direct contact with high officials within the Malabo presidency, alerting about the "possible death or at least irreversible coma" of President Obiang. The "source" in Malabo allegedly had asked the opposition group to make these news public as soon ass possible to avoid "an anti-democratic solution" in Equatorial Guinea, with the possible power handover to President Obiang's son "Teodorín".
The opposition statement, sent to afrol News, coincided with the several days long celebrations of Equatorial Guinea's independence, commencing on 10 October, and several events. Ghanaian President John Kufuor, accompanied with a larger delegation and the local press, was to attend the celebrations, but his Malabo-bound flight midway suddenly returned to Ghana, allegedly due to technical errors in the aged presidential airplane, popularly called the "Flying Coffin".
Also a highly profiled South African delegation, headed by ANC leader Jacob Zuma, was invited to participate in the independence celebrations, causing South African media and observers to question Mr Zuma's policies of seeking new allies among Africa's worst dictators. While Mr Zuma participated at the independence celebrations and a South African Nations Cup qualifier against Equatorial Guinea in Malabo, it seems that the ANC leader has not met personally with President Obiang since his arrival on 10 October.
On Independence Day, President Obiang appeared publicly at several occasions. At Malabo airport, he received foreign dignitaries, including Mr Zuma and the Presidents of Săo Tomé and Príncipe, the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau. At the celebrations, which marked Equatorial Guinea independence from Spain's 40th anniversary, President Obiang delivered a public speech and oversaw a four-hour military parade.
Since 10 October, however, the Equatoguinean President has made no public appearances, again causing speculations about his ailing health. The 66-year-old President is widely said to be suffering from terminal prostate cancer, amongst other illnesses. He is reported to visit European and Moroccan hospitals on a regular basis. However, the Equatoguinean presidency always has denied such reports.
Also today, the Malabo presidency issued a statement claiming the Equatoguinean Dictator "enjoys a perfect health." The statement added that the President today will follow his planned work programme at his offices in Bata, the main city on Equatorial Guinea's mainland province Río Muni. There existed no extraordinary situation and the President would follow his scheduled work.
Rumours about President Obiang's health situation and the possibility that he may die within short are often spread among opposition forces, but also among the Equatoguinean population. Indeed, most information in the closed country is spread as rumours, which is natural as authorities prevent independent and credible media from informing the people. Typical rumour flows in the country include popular wishes - among them a soon end to the Obiang dictatorship - and popular fears, including coups headed by personalities seen as even worse than the current Dictator.
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