Tag Archives: Equatorial Guinea

Bizarrely pro-Equatorial Guinea editorial

A Spanish news site, elmundofinanciero.com, has a bizarrely positive editorial on Equatorial Guinea. An excerpt (as translated by Google):

Equatorial Guinea has earned freehand a growing recognition in the area of the Central Foreign Affairs, and has not been precisely with the aid of Spain. Advances in electrification, water or social housing are notorious [sic?], being one of the neighboring countries that has advanced rapidly in recent years. It is also the only one that has succeeded in controlling pandemics such as malaria, or who has achieved a high dimension of child schooling. Equatorial Guinea faces a promising future [...]

I wonder what role EG’s PR firm had to play in this…There’s also an extremely positive response in the comments from someone named “Joaquin.”

Equatorial Guinea president’s son under formal investigation in France

The president of Equatorial Guinea’s son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, has been placed under formal investigation by the French government for money laundering.

The Equatoguinean government released a statement on their blogspot.com blog, possibly the only post on that blog that has ever been written by an Equatoguinean and not an American PR firm.

The government’s position has nothing to do with the money laundering claim. Rather they argue Obiang has diplomatic immunity and that there is a protection of property agreement between France and Equatorial Guinea.

More in a Human Rights Watch press statement here. A press release from SHERPA, the French NGO that originally filed the legal complaint is here. If you read French, I think this article has more details on holes in Obiang’s defense; Google translate has trouble with legal phrases.

His French lawyer is Emmanuel Marsigny, who has been representing him since at least 2012.  Marsigny founded a firm that specializes in part in “foreign corruption and money laundering.”

The Equatorial Guinea government press release ends, without irony: “We have always trusted the justice system and the presumption of innocence.”

How American PR firms work for African dictatorships

Equatorial Guinea makes extensive use of American PR firms. (Follow links here for examples.) Up until recently (and maybe still?), they worked with Qorvis. Qorvis’ reported activities on behalf of Equatorial Guinea to the Department of Justice from a few years ago are here (starting on pdf page 31; h/t ThinkProgress). Qorvis appears to have had hundreds of meetings and other interactions with US-based reporters to discuss Equatorial Guinea in 2011 alone.

Excerpt from Qorvis' report on activities they conducted on behalf of the Government of Equatorial Guinea.

Excerpt from Qorvis’ report on activities they conducted on behalf of the Government of Equatorial Guinea. Here they note all of the news outlets they sent a press release to.

Qorvis also reports that they “corrected errors and provided factual content for blogs and internet databases.” Someone from Qorvis has responded in some way to virtually every blog post or Tweet I have ever written on Equatorial Guinea. They have also responded to comments I have made on other sites. Someone from Qorvis who follows me on Twitter used to re-tweet tweets I would write that were unrelated to Equatorial Guinea, seemingly trying to ingratiate himself with me so that I would engage with him more on Equatorial Guinea. 

I think Qorivs is required to report literally every expense associated with foreign government consulting. Below they report a GoDaddy.com charge, which I suspect is for this site which I think they started up a few years ago, along with iPhone charges for the specific person who would often reach out to me to discuss my blog posts or tweets. Go America and our Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 for requiring this degree of financial reporting!

Qorvis expenses associated with consulting for Government of Equatorial Guinea

Qorvis expenses associated with consulting for Government of Equatorial Guinea

 

2 years ago Global Voices picked up a blog post I did on Equatorial Guinea. I had noted that there was a fear among African immigrants in EG that the government would crack down on illegal immigration following the Africa Cup of Nations. Here a seemingly innocuous comment from a Qorvis employee.

2 years ago Global Voices picked up a blog post I did on Equatorial Guinea. I had noted that there was a fear among African immigrants in EG that the government would crack down on illegal immigration following the Africa Cup of Nations. Here a seemingly innocuous comment from a Qorvis employee.

Based on this Reuters article, Equatorial Guinea’s new PR firm is Richard Attias and Associates.

The perils of working with Obiang’s son

Roberto Berardi, an Italian business partner of the Equatoguinean president’s son (Teodoro Obiang) has been sentenced to over 2 years in prison on Equatorial Guinea’s mainland. The partner was arrested after broaching with Teodoro the issue of US asset forfeiture against Teodoro’s US-based properties. Teodoro was perhaps afraid Berardi would testify against him in the future. Berardi is allegedly being held in solitary confinement and tortured. via the World Organisation Against Torture:

According to the information received, Mr Roberto Berardi, business partner of Mr Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mangue, Second Vice President of Equatorial Guinea and President Obiang’s eldest son, was arrested without a warrant late at night on 18 January 2013 at his home in Bata. He was held without charges for 21 days during which he was subjected to violence and denied access to a lawyer and family members. Mr Roberto Berardi was only later informed that his business partner had accused him of misappropriation, swindling and fraud of their company assets, Eloba Constuccuion S.A., which is operating in the construction sector. On 26 August 2013, the Bata Provincial Court sentenced him to 2 years and 4 months imprisonment for misappropriation. His trial was reportedly marred by irregularities.

According to the same information received, Mr Roberto Berardi had found out early 2013 about the asset forfeiture action by the United States Department of Justice against the US-based properties that his business partner had purchased by using accounts in Equatorial Guinea banks in the name of Eloba Construccion. Mr Roberto Berardi had subsequently raised the issue with his partner Mr Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mangue. There are reasons to believe that Mr Roberto Berardi could be a very damaging witness in the US investigation and was therefore arrested and imprisoned.

The battle to succeed Obiang in Equatorial Guinea

Africa Confidential on Equatorial Guinea [gated]:

In May 2012, Obiang appointed a new government and started a constitutional row. By naming his son [Téodorin] vice-president, Obiang would have made Téodorin his official successor. Instead. he named two vice-presidents, Téodorin and the former Prime Minister, Ignacio Milam Tang. Téodorin is Vice-President for National Defence and State Security, but government press releases named Tang constitutional successor.

[...]

Constancia Mangue Nsue Okomo, another of Obiang’s wives, is a driving force behind Téodorin’s takeover bid. She is younger than her husband and has a network of businesses to protect. Outside the family, no one has dared to raised their head above the parapet.

Statement on upcoming elections in Equatorial Guinea

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).

Opposition party in Equatorial Guinea urges election boycott

The Union Popular, one of the two legitimate opposition parties in Equatorial Guinea, has just issued a press release in advance of legislative and local government elections in May. I post the press release in its entirety below. My Spanish is not perfect, but after going back and forth with a party official a few times I think the main points are that 1)  The UP wants voters to boycott the elections, and 2) President Obiang is claiming that the UP signed an electoral pact with his ruling PDGE. This is not true. No pact has been signed.

Full text below. Please let me know if there are other main points I missed.

República de Guinea Ecuatorial
Partido Político Unión Popular
(U.P.)
Presidencia

DECLARACION INSTITUCIONAL

La Radio y Televisión del Estado bajo el absoluto control de PDGE, y patentizado en la página web de su gobierno, está difundiendo en los últimos días la firma de un Pacto Electoral entre el PDGE y los partidos paniaguados incluyendo en su lista al partido político Unión Popular.

Mediante la presente, el Partido político Unión Popular recuerda al pueblo de Guinea Ecuatorial y a la comunidad internacional lo siguiente:

Que, a raíz de la NO participación de Unión Popular a la Reforma Constitucional en Annobon el mes de mayo del año 2011, el mandamás de los partidos políticos Clemente Engonga Nguema Onguene expresa su cólera y venganza y saca de su delincuencia escuela democrática a Alfredo Mitogo Mitogo para estar al frente de UP con la aprobación y oferta protectora anticonstitucional del presidente Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo a todos aquellos que saben nutrirse de sus ‘sabias orientaciones’;
Alfredo Mitogo Mitogo, un delincuente político que cuando militó en A.D.P, su objetivo fue desestabilizar a su líder Mba Olo Bahamonde para apoderarse de la institución. Al final fue expulsado de A.D.P. ( esta vez la ley pudo aplicarse) , su proyecto continuó en UNION POPULAR ( U.P ) cuando Jeremías Ondo Ngomo llevaba la institución, tomando como estrategia recomendar a Ondo Ngomo expulsar de U.P a todos sus amigos y compañeros de lucha luego destituirle.

Hoy refuerza su acostumbrado método, apoyado por un miembro de gobierno que dice ser de la “oposición democrática” en ofertar por primera vez, a cambio de cargos y otros intereses económicos, las siglas de nuestro sufrido partido al Presidente fundador. ( esta vez, no se puede aplicar ninguna ley), por mucha que la ley reconozca la integridad y la legalidad de la directiva de U.P, el vice primer ministro encargado de la política interior agarra a Mitogo para desestabilizar a U.P y acabar con la ilusión y el sueño que un día tuvieron sus padres fundadores, hablamos de Juan Ntue Masakum, Andrés Ikuka Ebombe Bombe, Julián Yekue, José Martinez Bikie, Justino Mba Nsue, Andrés Moisés Mba Ada, Hermenegildo Ilolo Paca, Julián Mañe Edu, Baltasar Abaga Obiang, Jacinto Edu Alogo, Guillermo Richar Cuaresma, Tome Salas, Benito Mangue, Esteban Avehe…todos muertos junto a su mártir PEDRO MOTHU MAMIAGA, y pocos vivos como Domindo Abuy Elo Nchama, Angel Masie Ntutumu, Angel Masie Mibuy, Teofilo Ondo Nkulu.

Alfredo Mitogo y Genoveva traicionan memoria de estas ilustres personalidades vendiendo las siglas de UP exponiéndola en la sangrienta lista de apoyo al PDGE. A Mitogo y sus colaboradores, que Dios les dé larga vida, responderán el día después ante este pueblo por todo el daño que están causando a tanta familia huérfana, exiliada, sin trabajo a causa de UNION POPULAR.

Para que vuestro silencio no suponga complicidad, es momento que los militantes y simpatizantes de PDGE sepan que su presidente fundador Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo está utilizando sus votos para regalar a su antojo a los verdugos llamados “partidos políticos de la oposición democrática”. Pues, el PDGE es siempre ganador al cien por ciento pero con la formula de 97.97% de votos a favor y 2.03% de votos a repartir.

Es momento que el pueblo de Guinea Ecuatorial se conciencie que el PDGE gobierna con o sin elecciones razón por la cual Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo viene teniendo y manteniendo a toda costa la actual antidemocrática Junta Electoral Nacional bajo control y supervisión de su Partido Dictatorial de Guinea Ecuatorial y jurado NUNCA aceptar una Junta Electoral Independiente que realice unas elecciones democráticas transparentes y fiables.

Unido a todo lo susodicho, el partido político Unión Popular a raíz del pacto electoral suscrito entre el PARTIDO DEMOCRATICO DE GUINEA ECUATORIAL Y EL CIUDADANO ALFREDO MITOGO
DECLARA:

Primera: NO HABER FIRMADO ningún Pacto Electoral con el fundador y propietario del PDGE;
Segunda: LLAMA A LA TOTAL y ABSOLUTA ABSTENCION AL VOTO para que el Partido Dictatorial de Guinea Ecuatorial haga lo que mejor le convenga con los Municipios, el Parlamento y el Senado.
Tercera: Llamamos al presidente Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo a reconsiderar su política de instigación, persecución e imposición ideológica a los ciudadanos que disienten con sus lineamientos, iniciar un diálogo sincero con todas las fuerzas vivas de la nación INTERNAS Y EXTERNAS para una salida democrática a la actual crisis nacional.

Malabo, a 17 de abril de 2013
Unidad, Justicia y Prosperidad
La Ejecutiva Nacional

Obiang donates money to non-opposition opposition parties

From Global Voices, via Ethan Zuckerman:

According to MalaboNews, on Christmas Eve 2012, apparently trying to show off to the international community, the president donated the sum of 60 million Central African Francs [US $120,000] to twelve ‘opposition’ political parties. Samuel Obiang (no relation) wrote in blog [fr] Coup de gueule de Samuel:

“The majority of these parties led by the friends of President Obiang Nguemas think of their party as a veritable source of funds – a ‘business’ as the Equatorial Guineans call it.”

There is really only one, maybe two, opposition parties in Equatorial Guinea. And only one of  them has a single representative in the legislature. Every other representative belongs to a party that is in a coalition with the ruling party.