Democracy Held Hostage

Democracy Held Hostage

April 25, 2016
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The African Union Must Compel Equatorial Guinea to Abide by the Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance.

(Tampa, 25 April 2016). On Sunday April 24, the Equatoguinean National Electoral Commission swiftly announced preliminary figuresthat place President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo—in power since 1968—as presumed winner, awaiting official numbers and the official announcement scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 28. 

As with previous elections in 1996, 2002, and 2009, winning with 95, 97, and 99% of the votes respectively, Sunday’s election was also marred by allegations of fraud, violence, intimidation and violations of freedom of assembly, expression, and association.

EG Justice has documented andechoedsome of the most recent violations of these basic freedoms, the irregularities that led to some political parties boycotting the elections, and the violent attacks, arrests, and the siege of a political opposition party compound. 

During the weekendsecurity forces in Malabo surrounded Ciudadanos por la Innovacion’s (CI, Citizens for Innovation) party headquarters and fired teargas canisters into the compound, where more than 150 people were trapped. At least 6 individuals were severely wounded. CI has alleged that the police arbitrarily arrested 40 supporters.

Meanwhile in the city of Bata, on April 21, more than 140 CI supporters were illegally detained at the airport and taken to Bata´s central police station. The group was at the airport to welcome Mr. Gabriel Nze Obiang—the party’s leader. 

These violations add to the long list recorded by EG Justice in the lead up to elections, including the illegal detention and brutal beatingof Union Centro Derecha (UCD, Center Right Union) campaign coordinator Rafael Mbela, while peacefully campaigning to promote his party’s message.

EG Justice is deeply concerned about the lack of independence and transparency, and the violence, intimidation, and interference with voters’ right to freely elect their political leader.  The political opposition was never allowed to compete on a level playing field. Foreign independent media was not allowed to operate inside the country, and local and international NGOs continue to face daunting challenges that render independent electoral monitoring and impossible. All these irregularities and violation seriously undermine the legitimacy of the elections process and the eventual results.

EG Justice reiterates its call to the African Union to pressure the Equatoguinean government to abide by the African Charter on Elections, Democracy, and Governance, which requires signatories to take immediate steps that guarantee freedom of the press, allow civil society organizations to operate independently, put an end to the harassment of opposition leaders and human rights defenders, and uphold the rule of law. If it is to be taken seriously, the AU should distance itself from Sunday’s election and urge the government to host a genuine national dialogue that could lead to peaceful democratic reform in Equatorial Guinea.

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In Tampa, for EG Justice, Tutu Alicante, (English, Spanish): +1-615-479-0207 (cell); tutu@egjustice.org; Twitter @TutuAlicante @EGJustice

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