At the head of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 when he overthrew his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema in a coup, Mr. Obiang holds the world record for longevity in power of heads of state still alive, outside monarchies, and could be renewed for seven additional years.
“Because of his charisma, his leadership and his political experience (…)“, the ruling party “unanimously elected militant brother Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo as the candidate who will represent the party in the presidential elections” on November 20, wrote on Twitter the vice-president, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed Teodorin, son of the current president.
The only issue in the election lay in the nomination of the candidate of the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), which occupies 99 of the 100 seats in the outgoing lower house and all of the 70 seats in the Senate.
No other presidential candidate has declared himself to date.
– Succession –
The hypothesis of seeing Teodorin, long considered his father’s heir apparent, taking over, had gained momentum due to his omnipresence on the political scene for two years.
The latter, all-powerful and feared Vice-President in charge of Defense, publicly assumed jet-setter and sentenced in 2021 to three years in prison suspended in France in the context of the so-called “ill-gotten gains“, had not finally been nominated as a candidate in November 2021 during the PDGE Congress to everyone’s surprise.
Equatorial Guineans but also observers and diplomats pointed to a power struggle between Teodorin and certain caciques of the regime, reluctant to see the son take the reins of this small country in Central Africa, rich in oil.
On Tuesday, Equatorial Guinea announced that it would bring forward its presidential election by five months and the ballot will take place at the same time as the legislative elections.
The anticipation of the presidential election was justified by the need to consolidate costly ballots in the midst of an economic crisis due in particular to “the war in Ukraine” and to the “covid pandemic“, but observers see it rather as the desire of one of the two camps to push what it believes to be its advantage.
The outcome of the legislative elections is hardly in doubt, as with each election: the PDGE – single party until 1991 – should leave only a few crumbs to opposition movements “tolerated“among the few who are not the target of relentless repression regularly denounced by international NGOs.
On Monday, Mr. Obiang abolished the death penalty in Equatorial Guinea, but his regime is regularly accused by international NGOs and Western capitals of flouting human rights with, in particular, “arbitrary detentions“, of the “extra-judicial executions“even”torture“.