Patronage Politics

Patronage Politics

December 15, 2011
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President Obiang has announced that over $500,000 will be distributed to his party's supporters as a holiday "gift".

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, founder and president of the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), has announced that over $500,000 will be distributed to supporters of the PDGE to celebrate Christmas and New Years this year. The funds will be distributed by the presidents of the 18 local districts of the PDGE.

The source of this generous holiday gift is unclear. According to the announcement published on the PDGE website, the funds are being “released” for the occasion, but it does not state whether these are Obiang’s personal funds, a portion of the PDGE budget, or public funds. President Obiang exercises almost sole control over the state funds of Equatorial Guinea and has proven willing to spend that money on items of questionable public benefit, such as a $77 million presidential guest house and numerous presidential palaces around the country.

In 2008, President Obiang donated $3 million to UNESCO, allegedly from the Obiang Nguema Mbasogo Foundation for the Preservation of Life, an unknown entity prior to the donation, to create the UNESCO Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences. EG Justice and several international organizations and prominent individuals have campaigned for the cancelation of the prize and have criticized UNESCO for accepting funds that could be tainted. President Obiang and several close family members, including his son Teodoro Nguema Obiang, are currently under investigation in Africa, U.S., France, and Spain for money laundering and misuse of public funds. In October 2011, eleven supercars were seized from Obiang’s home in Paris as part of the ongoing French investigation. Despite these allegations and ample evidence of corruption, UNESCO has not definitively canceled the prize. UNESCO currently has no procedures in place to screen private donations and prevent money laundering. 

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