Equatorial Guinea Brief History

Equatorial Guinea is a country in Central Africa. The territory consists of five islands and a mainland enclave between Cameroon and Gabon. The climate is tropical and humid, with a rainy season from mid-June to mid-October; dry season from October to mid-June. The territory of the mainland part of the republic consists mainly of coastal plains with tropical forests, the islands are of volcanic origin. Cultivated land makes up only 5%, pastures 4% and forests 46% of the land area. Only the interior of the country is mountainous, the highest mountain being Pico Basile (3008 m).

According to wholevehicles, Equatorial Guinea gained independence in 1968 after 190 years of Spanish colonial rule. The constitution of 17 November 1991 applies in the country, it was amended in January 1995 and February 2012. Since 1991, the country has been a constitutionally guaranteed democracy with a presidential system (the constitution of 17/11/1991 formally legalizes the existence of multiple political parties – until then only the Partido Democrático de Guinea Equatorial PDGE was legal). President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been in office for 35 years and he and his family completely control the political and economic life of the country. The “opposition” is completely under control or in exile. Vice-presidents, prime ministers, deputy prime ministers and ministers are appointed by the president. The president is elected by universal suffrage for 7 years. The number of mandates is limited to two following the constitutional amendment that entered into force on February 16, 2012. The last election was held in 2009 (he won 95% of the vote), others are expected to take place in 2016. It is unclear whether the new constitutional limit of two consecutive terms applies to the current president. If not, he could remain in office until 2030. His eldest son Teodorín (currently the second vice-president responsible for defense) is widely considered to be the successor of the president.

Seventy-six-year-old President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been in power since 1979, and after his re-election on April 26, 2016 with a majority of 93.7% of the vote in an obviously rigged election, he is serving his next seven-year mandate, during which the question of his succession may be raised. His son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mango, nicknamed Teodorín, who has been vice-president and head of the defense and security sector since June 2016, comes into consideration. However, in July 2017 he was found guilty of money laundering and embezzlement of public funds and, as yet without jurisdiction, sentenced in absentia in Paris to three years in prison, a €30m fine and the confiscation of “illegally acquired property” on French territory. Teodorín Obiang has appealed against the sentence and another court hearing will take place in the near future. For that reason, the ruling presidential party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (Partido Democratico de Guinea Ecuatorial – PDGE), has not yet been officially nominated as a presidential successor. Therefore, the transfer of power in the family line may not be as smooth in the end as the Obiang family still assumes.

In July 2017, a nationwide party congress was held, which confirmed the leading role of the current president and party leader. Parliamentary elections, originally planned for 2018, finally took place on November 12, 2017, with an expected almost 100% result for PDGE, whose candidates occupied all 75 seats in the Senate and 99 out of 100 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
President Obiang chaired four days of government meetings in November 2018, and on the last day he handed over the leadership to his son Teodorín, who chaired the meeting for the first time on November 20, 2018. In early December 2018, the President dismissed the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Hermes Nguemo Oyana, who, along with other officers, had been promoted just two months earlier, on October 15, 2018. They too were stripped of their ranks in December, citing only an “agreement between officers”, not a merit promotion. Among those promoted was the president’s son Teodorín, who also jumped one general level, but he retained his new rank of divisional general.

On January 4, 2018, the government issued a statement, according to which state security forces foiled a coup attempt on December 28, 2017. State television TVGE said one coup plotter was killed, 30 militants from Chad, Cameroon, Sudan and the Central African Republic were captured and others “scattered in the forest by gunfire” near the border with Cameroon. The mercenaries, who were supposed to be preparing to overthrow the government of President Obiang, were armed with hand-held rocket launchers and automatic weapons.

The reverberations of the failed coup are still on the agenda. In November 2018, the ruling PDGE party expelled 42 members who were said to have been involved in an attempt to overthrow President Obiang. In February 2019, Equatorial Guinea became the country holding the presidency of the UN Security Council. On that occasion, President Obiang made a speech in which he pointed out the negative influence of mercenaries on the African continent, pointing out that the militants from their ranks participated in four attempts to overthrow him, including the last one. He also accused France, among others, of supporting the coup plotters.

The legislative power consists of a bicameral parliament – the Assembly of People’s Representatives (Cámara de Representantes del Pueblo) with 100 seats and the Senate (the Senate was only established by an amendment to the constitution in 2012, elections took place on May 26, 2013). Deputies and senators are elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term of office. The previous elections to the Chamber of Deputies took place in 2008 (PDGE confirmed its dominant position, it had 99 deputies in the old parliament), the next one was held on May 26, 2013. According to preliminary results, the ruling PDGE won convincingly at all levels.

The court system is a combination of Spanish and traditional law. It includes local, regional and regional courts, the High Court, the Constitutional Court and the Court of Appeal. Judges are appointed by the president, their decisions are influenced by political power.

Equatorial Guinea Brief History