Presidential polls kick off in Equatorial Guinea

Presidential polls kick off in Equatorial Guinea as incumbent President Teodoro is set for re-election

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has ruled the west African country for more than 36 years.

Equatorial Guinea goes to polls on Sunday as Africa’s longest-serving leader, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, is set for re-election.          

The election was initially scheduled to be held in November, but the vote was brought forward to April 24 after a presidential decree, with no explanation for the change.

Obiang, who has been in power for more than 36 years, faces six candidates in Sunday’s vote.

The main opposition parties have decided to boycott the election which the long serving African leader looks favourable to win.

The Democratic Opposition Front (FOD) coalition of dissident groups called supporters on March 23 to boycott the vote, claiming that it would be rigged.  

Andres Essono Ondo, whose Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS) group is part of the FOD, said numerous "irregularities" surrounded the poll, which he said would ensure that "President Obiang wins with a big score as a result of fraud".

The CPDS, the only opposition party represented in parliament, said it "will not recognise the president elected in the poll".

The opposition added that it dislike the absence of an independent electoral commission as well as the government’s negative attitude towards the media.

Another FOD member, Guillermo Nguema Ela, has branded the election "anti-constitutional".

The incumbent is running as head of a coalition of 10 parties that includes the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea.

 Obiang earlier sent a strong warning against those who rejected to vote for him.

"I am the candidate of the people. Whoever does not vote for me is rejecting peace and opting for disorder," he said at a rally in the capital Malabo.

"Many say that they are tired of seeing me, it's been 36 years already. True, but I've dedicated my life to this country," he said.

During the previous election in 2009, Obiang was returned to office with a sweeping 95.37 percent of votes.

Now aged 73, he came to power in a coup in 1979 that overthrew his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema, who had ruled the country since independence from Spain in 1968.

Obiang's government has frequently come under pressure by human rights groups for suppressing dissident voices, civil society and the media, as well as for widespread corruption.

Equatorial Guinea has become sub-Saharan Africa's third biggest oil producer in recent years, with revenues accounting for more than 70 percent of national income.

However, more than half of the country’s population lives on less than two dollars a day.