eqg005 Equatorial Guinean government steps down in power struggle

Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinean government steps down in power struggle

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afrol.com, 25 February - The Equatorial Guinean Prime Minister, Ángel Serafín Seriche Dougan, on Friday asked for the resignation of himself and his government, which was immediately granted by President Teodoro Nguema Obiang. Mr. Seriche Dougan said his government's "poor performance" had caused the "institutional crisis". The Prime Minister has been under pressure from the President's first-born son to resign.

Ángel Serafín Seriche Dougan was first appointed Prime Minister in 1996, and his post was subsequently confirmed three times. According to a presidential press release, "the dissolution of the government that came into being through the last democratic elections in March 1999 is due to an institutional crisis caused by the poor performance of the governing equipment, which did not respect the majority opinion of the people or the supreme interests of the country."

Both Mr. Seriche Dougan and a long list of his companions in the executive have accused of corruption for several months by the state controlled media, political parties and political groups. In October 2000, the President's first-born, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangué, alias "Teodorín", first called for "the resignation en bloc" in an open letter. Teodorín himself was part of Seriche Dougan's government. 

Teodorín's calls for the government's resignation were quickly followed up by demands from the Equatorial Guinean parliament and its majority of deputies from the PDGE ruling party. Together with Teodorín, PDGE deputies launched a campaign in the parliament accusing Prime Minister Seriche Dougan and the ministers of Justice, Mines & Energy, Health and Industry & Trade of corruption. There were made demands that these ministers explained the whereabouts of public funding in their ministries and later that they should resign over their "corrupt practice and abuse of power".

As a result of these campaigns, President Obiang also demanded the resignation of Seriche Dougan's government team in October, referring to "the popular voice expressed in the Parliament for his resignation". The President claimed that Seriche Dougan showed a "very passive attitude towards the numerous cases of corruption, which undermine the public function". 

Corruption, private disposal of public funds and failure in accountancy is seen as a major problem in Equatorial Guinea. The disappearing of funds remains the norm. In light of this, almost every international institution and NGO has pulled out of Equatorial Guinea, the last being Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in January 2000. According to MSF, people "are suffering the direct consequences of the corruption of a regime which does not seem to care about the consequences of its greed." 

The country's corruption web was however not headed by Mr. Seriche Dougan's government but by President Obiang and his family, governing the country as a private estate. Observers therefore don't consider the campaign against the government as a corruption clean-out campaign but rather as a power struggle.

Sources from the opposition relate the anti-government campaign by parliamentarians from the ruling party, the President and his son to a power struggle over the succession of the cancer-sick president. The campaign against the government thus is seen as part of a greater campaign against persons that might endanger Teodorín's bid for power. Earlier, the President reportedly has undertaken a purge in the military forces, getting rid of opponents to his controversial son there. 

When accepting Seriche Dougan's demission, President Obiang stated that the case had "demonstrated the differences between the people's representatives and the government, reflecting a situation of a true institutional crisis." The spokesman of the leaving ministers, Antonio Fernando Nve Ngu, however states that Dougan's resignation "only can be seen on one background, namely to give the President the opportunity to form a new government, if he considers that opportune. There are no other reasons for our retreat," he said, thus denying the corruption claims. The spokesman minister added that "a new government will be named within short," without giving any dates.

Yesterday, the Presidential Office also announced the renewal of all national and local authorities. A source from the PDGE ruling party, which has chosen to remain anonymous, indicated that this renovation "marks the start of a strengthening of the structure of the PDGE before the possible organisation of anticipated elections". Oppositional sources fear that the renewal could mean purges within the party to insure the support of Teodorín. 

Sources: Based on EFE, AFP, La Diáspora and afrol archives 

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