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Equatorial Guinea Politics

State and politics

Since independence from Spain in 1968, Equatorial Guinea has had only two presidents: Beyogo Negue Ndong Macías Nguema and his nephew Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who overthrew his uncle in a military coup in 1979.

Political System of Equatorial Guinea

GOVERNMENT

According to the 1991 Constitution, Equatorial Guinea is a republic with a multi-party system and an elected parliament. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how GQ can stand for Equatorial Guinea. In practice, however, the country is closest to a military dictatorship, which since the 1979 coup was ruled by President and Brigadier General Teodoro Obiang Nguema. The president is elected for seven years and could previously be re-elected unlimited times; after a 2011 referendum, the constitution was amended to allow a maximum of two terms of office. Since the rule does not apply retroactively, Obiang Nguema was also able to stand in the 2016 election, which he won.

President Zone Teodoro ("Theodorin") Nguema Obiang is seen as a supposed successor, not least since he was given one of the two vice presidential posts, which was also introduced when the constitution was amended in 2011. The president is immune from prosecution for crimes committed before, during and after his term of office.

Parliament has two chambers, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and acts as an obedient instrument for the regime. The Chamber of Deputies has 100 members who are elected by universal suffrage for a term of five years. The Senate shall have at least 70 members, 55 of whom shall be elected by election and 15 elected by the President. In addition, there may be up to six members sitting in the Senate by virtue of their office. The term of office is five years.

Policy

The ruling party Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial (PDGE), formerly the only allowed party, dominates the parliament. The opposition has boycotted the elections several times due to extensive election fraud and scare tactics. The so-called Democratic opposition, which received 30 and 10 seats after the elections in 2004 and 2008 respectively, is a group of regime-loyal parties whose main task has been to maintain Equatorial Guinea's democratic facade. Together, PDGE and its allies received all mandates except one after the 2008 election, which for cost reasons was coordinated with local elections and was related to one year earlier. After the 2013 election, PDGE received 99 out of 100 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 54 out of 55 eligible seats in the Senate. The gender distribution in the Chamber of Deputies is skewed and after the 2013 election, only 24 of the 100 members were women.

Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned Obiang Nguema Mbasogo's regime for its sanction of mass arrests and torture of political opponents. Obiang Nguema was re-elected in 1996, 2002 and 2009, each with more than 95 percent of the vote. The 2002 election was preceded by hundreds of opposition parties being arrested, and all counter-candidates withdrew their candidacies on Election Day. In 2016, the official result showed that Obiang Nguema Mbasogo won 94 percent of the vote.

The relationship with the former colonial power of Spain is strained, as Spain gives asylum to fugitive politicians and allows them to spread propaganda against the homeland regime. Equatorial Guinea has oriented itself towards the French-speaking neighboring countries and joined the French-assisted Central African Franc zone in 1985.

Judiciary

The country's highest court is the Supreme Court in Malabo, to which are appellate courts and the court of first instance. The legal system is based on the Spanish legal heritage. The death penalty can be punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

Corruption, poverty and oppression characterize Equatorial Guinea under the leadership of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Although the country is the third largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, a large proportion of the population lives in widespread poverty. Half of the population lacks clean water and basic sanitation.

Prosecutions against the president occur regarding the misappropriation of public funds. However, due to the country's lack of press freedom, both citizens and journalists do not have the opportunity to gain insight into how the income from the country's natural resources is distributed. Although the Constitution and the law provide for freedom of expression and press, the reality is the opposite as the authorities have extensive powers to limit the activities of the media. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2015, Equatorial Guinea is found in 167 of 180 countries surveyed.

The few private media that exist are generally owned by people close to the president, while the remaining media channels operate entirely under state influence and state control. Journalists to a large extent practice self-censorship, as threats to and surveillance of journalists are common.

The government's systematic use of torture is also a problem that has attracted international attention. Reports testify that police and military used violence in interrogations, often for the purpose of forcing recognition, even though the law prohibits such methods.

Violence against women and children, as well as human trafficking, are significant problems. Above all, children from neighboring countries Benin and Nigeria are sold as workers in the cities or forced to prostitute themselves. Equatorial Guinea has begun a collaboration with the UN to rectify the problem, but it (2015) has not yet yielded any noticeable results.

Heads of State

Presidents

1968-79 Beyogo Negue Ndong Macías Nguema
1979- Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
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