Fresh arrests in Equatorial Guinea a year after opposition crackdown

Last year, authorities outlawed the main opposition party, the Citizens for Innovation
Police forces deploy as Equatorial Guinea team players arrive at Malabo’s airport on February 3, 2015 ahead of their 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match against Ghana, scheduled on February 5 in Malabo. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

An opposition activist in Equatorial Guinea has been arrested, his party said on Tuesday, on the anniversary of a crackdown by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

The country’s second biggest opposition party, the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), said that one of its members had been detained early Monday for criticising Obiang, who has ruled the oil-rich West African state for 39 years.

“Joaquin Elo Ayeto was arrested at his home in Malabo’s El Paraiso dstrict,” the CPDS said in a statement.

“The arrest, for which there was no warrant, was carried out by seven armed members of the presidential security force,” it said.

According to the CPDS, Ayeto was accused of saying he hoped Obiang “would not return” to the capital from a tour of newly created provincial districts.

The activist is being held in the main police station in Malabo, a facility widely known as Guantanamo, the party said.

On February 26 2018, the authorities outlawed the main opposition party, the Citizens for Innovation (CI).

Twenty-one CI members, including the party’s sole member of parliament, were subsequently sentenced to 30 years’ jail for “sedition, public disorder, attacks on authority and serious bodily harm.”

The move followed scuffles between CI supporters and the security forces in the runup to legislative elections in November 2017 that led to a roundup of around 100 party members.

“The CI no longer exists. This party‚Ķ has been legally abolished because of its activities that encourage or foment delinquency, violence, rebellion and hatred,” the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) says on its website.

The CI says three of its members died in prison in the post-election sweep, an accusation rejected by the authorities.

Thirty-three CI members were released in October 2018 under a presidential pardon.

In December 2017, the authorities reported thwarting a coup that was allegedly orchestrated by foreign exiles.

A trial of alleged plotters is scheduled to take place in March.

Obiang, 76, is Africa’s longest-serving leader.

He has faced a string of coup attempts since seizing power in the small former Spanish colony in August 3 1979, ousting his uncle.

Critics accuse him of brutal repression of opponents as well as election fraud and corruption. 

The country is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producers, but most of its 1.2 million population lives in poverty. 

Obiang’s son, Teodorin Obiang Nguema, 50, is vice president.

Last October, he was promoted from colonel directly to division general, without passing through the normal intermediary rank of brigade general.

The following month, he presided over a cabinet meeting for the first time.


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