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Equatorial Guinea
Politics | Human rights

Equatorial Guinea opposition leader detained

Equatoguinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema (l)

© Oficina Información Guinea Ecuatorial/afrol News
afrol News, 13 October
- The major opposition party in Equatorial Guinea is reporting about the unexplained arrest of one of its executive members. It is the first arrest of a prominent oppositional since the regime announced human rights reforms in June.

The Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), the only legal party opposing the regime of Equatoguinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, reports that Marcos Manuel Ndong Owono was arrested on Friday. Mr Ndong is the secretary of financial issues of the CPDS executive.

Police gave no explanations as Mr Ndong was arrested without prior warning on the evening of Friday in Malabo, the capital. The motives for his arrest have yet to be disclosed by the police, CPDS states today.

"Up to this point, the party is unaware of the reasons for this arrest. The investigations carried out do not indicate any criminal conduct that justifies the detention of this political leader," CPDS human rights secretary Wenceslao Mansogo told afrol News today.

According to Mr Mansogo, there existed no warrant as the arrest was made, and more than 72 hours after the detention, Mr Ndong is still held at Malabo police headquarters without any official accusation.

The detained CPDS leader is an economist, formerly living as a refugee in Spain, engaged in the launching of a savings bank in Equatorial Guinea. According to the CPDS, Mr Ndong's bank project is managed by him privately, not as part of his political engagement, and is conducted within the national legal framework.

Mr Mansogo sees the arrest of his colleague "not just as an arbitrary detention," but above all, "a serious affront to an opposition political leader and an act of persecution in order to prevent the launch of an important economic activity not controlled by the regime."

"With this arrest, the Equatoguinean ruling confirms that it not only sticks to the repression of political and social freedoms, but also suppresses any economic initiative that is not in the hands of the ruling clan. It is not possible to lead a major economic activity in Equatorial Guinea if not associated with a senior member of the regime. All companies, all major traders in the country are always obliged to include a member of the Guinean regime," Mr Mansogo told afrol News.

The arrest of Mr Ndong is the first attack on a prominent opposition politician since Equatoguinean President Obiang in June this year announced massive reforms that would "turn the page in the history" of his country. In particular, he announced a "comprehensive legal reform" with an aim of promoting human and civil rights, but also of improving the business climate in the country.

Since that, however, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented President Obiang's commitments as "empty rhetoric". The Equatoguinean government had continued to "disregard economic and social rights, harass civil society activists, impose severe restrictions on freedom of expression, and carry out grossly unfair trials," HRW research had proven.

Also the CPDS has continued to stand in the Obiang regime's crossfire. The party repeatedly has seen its leaders detained and accused of "coup plots" and "treason". The many elections in Equatorial Guinea since President Obiang allowed "multi-party democracy" in the 1990s have all been marred by violence, intimidation, censorship, manipulation and fraud.

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