See also:
» 28.02.2011 - Yacht worth US$380m ordered by E-Guinea dictator
» 29.10.2009 - Embezzlement case against Africa trio overturned
» 09.07.2009 - HRW denounced use of oil revenues in E/Guinea
» 26.05.2009 - Equatorial Guinea denies accounts and real estate in Spain
» 02.04.2009 - Obiang warns action against the judiciary
» 08.11.2006 - Equatoguinean presidential heir buys US$ 35m palace
» 24.11.2005 - US unfreezes Equatorial Guinea corruption funds
» 27.01.2005 - Equatorial Guinea promises to improve transparency

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Equatorial Guinea
Economy - Development | Human rights

Massive reforms for Equatorial Guinea ...?

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea

© Gob. de GE/afrol News
afrol News, 28 June
- The President of Equatorial Guinea, in power since 1979, in a speech today announced massive reforms "turning the page in the history" of his country. Critics however expect yet another round of false hopes.

Equatoguinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in a speech this afternoon in Cape Town, South Africa, announced a five-point "comprehensive reform and transparency programme" that he described as historic.

The reform package was to address much of the "criticisms of my government and even of my family," many of which the President said he believed to be "untrue and published without full assessment of the facts."

President Obiang is widely criticised to rule the country as his family's private property, without any respect for human rights, democracy or rule of law. The country's vast oil revenues are said to be mostly channelled to his family and clan, with the Equatoguinean population still living in utter poverty.

The Equatoguinean leader promised to address these unmentioned criticisms by implementing a five-point programme during ten years "in close cooperation with the world community, the African Union and non-governmental organisations."

First, government would seek to "ensure transparency and accountability" in the oil sector. An "Extractive Industries Transparency Reform" would strengthen Equatorial Guinea's efforts to qualify for membership of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), thus securing investors.

Second, government was to "expand the current Social Development Fund by investing substantial resources from oil exploration revenues and other natural resources into our children, our schools, our teachers, health care, tourism, housing, potable water supply, road infrastructure, telecommunications, development of natural sciences, job creation and development of democratic institutions."

Third, "comprehensive legal reform" with an aim of promoting human and civil rights was to be implemented with the help from the African Union, President Obiang announced. Government would also "take measures to support Equatorial Guinea's free pr

Army troops of Equatorial Guinea parading

© Gob. de GE/afrol News
ess association, (ASOPGE) to allow it to act with independence and freedom."

Further, the International Red Cross would be invited to "install its headquarters in Equatorial Guinea and assist in reviewing and assessing all allegations of human rights violations in the country. We will also ask for [its] help in monitoring our Criminal Justice System and prisons to ensure the humane treatment and appropriate for those convicted of crimes," the President announced.

Finally, the reform programme would seek to enhance the protection of the environment. "We will continue to enforce other protective measures already in place," President Obiang said, "such as our ban on the hunting of monkeys in our national parklands and forests."

President Obiang went far in recognising the faults and errors of his regime. But "we are a country that is only 42 years old," the Equatoguinean leader apologised his shortcomings in a seldom humble way.

"We will not ask the global advocacy groups that have criticised us to look the other way and stop their criticisms," he said, "but we ask the international community to help us to help ourselves and help us implement this reform programme so that we become partners with the world's democracies."

So far, President Obiang's "historic" speech however has not been received in the best way. Critics in and outside Equatorial Guinea mainly consider the speech an attempt to secure foreign investments and raising his poor international image.

"Obiang again is laughing at the Equatoguineans," an exiled opponent of his regime told afrol News. "He is announcing reforms so they [the international community] leave him in peace, but there are no real reforms within the vague packages read out in Cape Town," he added.

A spokesperson of the small exiled group National Front for the Liberation of Equatorial Guinea (FRENALIGE) added the President just coul

Campaign poster of Equatorial Guinea's opposition leader Plácido Micó

© Gob. de GE/afrol News
d not be trusted. President Obiang "is a dictator without credibility, and there are no guarantees that will guarantee the guarantees of Obiang."

The Equatoguinean opposition refers to the many reforms announced earlier by President Obiang. There were promises of democracy after his 1979 coup, but Mr Obiang soon centred all powers in his person.

In 1990, multi-party elections were allowed and democracy and human rights standards were to be respected. But repression rather increased, with much of the opposition and free press exiled. Also the giant oil revenues from 1997 and onwards came at a promise of social reform, which has gone unfulfilled.

Global Witness, a US-based group looking into "the corrupt exploitation of natural resources," today joined oppositional Equatoguineans in rejecting President Obiang's reform package as lacking of credibility. "Obiang is a brutal dictator who is desperately trying to launder his reputation", said Robert Palmer, a campaigner with Global Witness.

The reform programme would "amount to little more than spin, as long as the President continues to disregard the rule of law and break his previous commitments," said Mr Palmer.

President Obiang and his family are currently under investigation in a number of countries for pillaging millions of dollars from state coffers. Global Witness earlier had exposed how Mr Obiang's son was able to bring US$ 75 million into the US to fund a luxury playboy lifestyle, despite only earning a salary of a few thousand dollars a month.

"President Obiang can rest assured that Global Witness will continue to criticise his regime as long as he continues to put enriching himself and his family above the interests of his people," said Mr Palmer. "If Obiang is serious about reform he should waive the confidentiality clauses in the country's oil deals today. Transparency doesn't take ten years," he added.

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