Amnesty International, Equatorial Guinea Justice, and Human Rights Watch have issued a joint statement on the upcoming Equatoguinean elections. The election environment appears so textbook-dictatorship it’s almost not interesting. I’m sure there is heterogeneity amongst these authoritarian electoral strategies, but to someone who doesn’t know much about this it seems pretty cliche to me. One interesting thing to note: there is a fear that foreign journalists might get denied visas. But Americans don’t need visas! So American journalists should be able to enter the country without trouble. It’s not very expensive to get there either. Go!
The May 26 elections will include voting for local council members and a new parliament, including for the first time 55 senators (Obiang appoints an additional 15 senators).
It doesn’t matter what happens on May 26. There is simply no way the elections can be considered free based on the current state of the media (virtually no way to hear or see any message that criticizes the government in the country except via the internet); the ruling party’s ability to use state resources for the campaign; the fear that you and your family won’t get government jobs if you publicly support either of the two parties that are not part of the ruling coalition etc. etc. etc.
Some highlights from the report:
The country has no independent and impartial body to oversee the electoral process or consider election-related complaints. The National Election Commission is controlled by the ruling party and is headed by the interior minister, a prominent member of the governing party.
[Election] observers will be permitted to travel to witness the vote only “in accordance with the program established for that purpose by the government” (arts. 11, 12, and 18).
Their [election observers'] ability to speak to the “official news media” about their “activities” during voting is subject to approval by the Information Ministry (art. 21).