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Key opposition figure in Equatorial Guinea held in Chad on ‘coup’ charges2 minutes read

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has repeatedly accused people of seeking to overthrow him.

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Obian Nguema
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema

A leading Equatorial Guinea opposition figure arrested in Chad last week was preparing a coup against the Malabo government, a senior minister said Saturday.

Andres Esono Ondo, leader of the the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), was arrested on Thursday, said Equatorial Guinea’s external security minister Juan Antonio Bibang Nchuchuma.

The sole objective of his trip was to acquire weapons and ammunition and to recruit “terrorists” to carry out a coup in Equatorial Guinea, backed with foreign money, he added.

Esono Ondo was arrested in the Guera region, 500 kilometres (310 miles) from the Chadian capital “in the company of Saleh Kebzabo, leader of Chad’s main opposition party,” he said in an official note read on state media.

Contacted by AFP, Kebzabo dismissed the minister’s allegations as “gratuitous accusations” put up by the government to damage the opposition, but confirmed the arrest of Esono Ondo.

On Saturday, Equatorial Guinea’s main opposition party, the Citizens for Innovation (CI) also denounced Esono Ondo’s arrest.

The government wanted to “end democratic political resistance by the true opposition”, it said in a statement.

A diplomat in Equatorial Guinea, who asked to remain anonymous, also told AFP the government wanted to “silence dissenting voices and keep the opposition on the back foot”, adding that this kind of operation was common.

In 2015, Esono Ondo was falsely accused of hiring someone infected by the Ebola virus to transmit the deadly disease to Equatorial Guinea, where the football African Nations Cup final took place.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, 76, has repeatedly accused people within Equatorial Guinea and elsewhere of seeking to overthrow him.

A trial of 150 other alleged coup plotters was suspended in early April, a defence lawyer said.

Obiang Nguema is now Africa’s longest-serving leader having himself seized power in a 1979 putsch. His critics accuse him of brutal repression, election fraud and corruption.

In a landmark 2017 judgment, a French court convicted his son, the country’s vice president Teodorin Obiang, of stealing public money to buy luxury goods in France.

He was handed a three-year suspended sentence in the trial, which he did not attend.

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East Africa looks to end illicit gold trade

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Countries in the East Africa region are discussing the adoption of stringent traceability mechanisms for the gold industry to stamp out rampant smuggling across East and Central Africa to overseas buyers particularly in Asia.


Mining officials from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries are in negotiations and are meeting next month to discuss the body’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Strategy which calls for harmonisation of gold export procedures including taxation and traceability and certification.


The ICGLR wants its member countries to adopt the strategy by mid-this year.


According to the director of Democracy and good Governance at ICGLR, Ambeyi Ligabo, It is disheartening to see so much gold being smuggled from the DR Congo through its neighbouring countries while much attention over the past 10 years has focused on implementing traceability for tin, tungsten and tantalum (Three Ts) in which little has been done in terms of monitoring the flow of gold in the region.


Mr Ligabo also revealed they have agreed that it is crucial to implement the ICGLR guidelines on gold trade because the region’s image has been smeared by smuggling. We hope they speed up the process so these guidelines are affected by March this year.


Rwanda’s efforts to boost gold exports has been hampered by constant reports that the country serves as a route through which gold is smuggled out of the DR Congo to overseas buyers. The government is firm that all its gold is traded legitimately.

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Business News

Teodorin Obiang faces $30 million corruption fine

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A French court has ruled against Teodorin Obiang Nguema, Vice president of Equatorial Guinea, in a year – long embezzlement process launched by a group of anti-corruption NGOs
Obiang was ordered to pay a $32.9 million fine. He also faces a suspended jail term of three years after a lower court found him guilty on a range of charges relating to graft and money
laundering.
Additionally, the Paris appeals court confirmed the seizure of his property, including a six-level mansion in Paris which had been valued at €107 million in 2012.

According to Marc-Andre Feffer of Transparency International France, the ruling is an important moment.
Obiang has appealed to the International Court of Justice, arguing that his residence should be protected as a diplomatic building. A hearing on the issue has been scheduled in The Hague next week.
His legal team has one final option for appeal left — they could challenge the Monday verdict before the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest appeals court for criminal cases.

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DRC’s artisanal monopoly to seek private partner

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A new state company set up by the Democratic Republic of Congo to manage the country’s artisanally mined cobalt could seek a private partner if the state does not have the funds to purchase all production, according to the country’s minister of mines, Willy Kitobo Samsoni.

DRC currently produces about 60% of the world’s cobalt. Most of which is extracted by industrial operators like Glencore and China Molybdenum, with artisanal miners accounting for about a quarter of output.

The country recently granted the new company a monopoly to purchase and market all cobalt that is not mined industrially in an effort to exert greater influence over prices.

According to Samsoni, the easiest way out is to be financed by the Congolese state, but if the state cannot raise the funds to buy all the artisanally mined cobalt, it will then have to enter into partnership with a company.

He also adds that plans for talks with financiers are on ground.

Samsoni further adds that the new company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC) will be managed independently by state mining company,Gecamines.

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