At over 43 years old, he holds the world record for longest tenure for a living head of state, excluding monarchies. Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was unsurprisingly re-elected with 94.9% of the vote for a sixth term on Saturday in the small Central African oil state with one of the world’s most closed and authoritarian regimes.
Already re-elected in 2016 with 93.7% of the vote, he seemed to be cooking up a dolphin in recent years, one of his sons, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mange, aka Teodorin, an avid jet-setter known for his luxurious lifestyle. , and convicted in France in the case of “illegal income”.
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At the age of 80, the head of state had already limited his public appearances for two years, when Teodorin shone more and more as the patriarch faded. However, the all-powerful and fearsome Vice President Teodorin in charge of defense has not stopped appearing on social media surrounded by naiads or driving racing cars as rare as they are expensive.
In mid-December 2021, everyone expected the ruling party to nominate him as a candidate in place of his father. But the caciques of this clan power, as well as Teodoro Obiang’s close guards, felt it was too early and too provocative to officially promote him as a successor at a time when the fall in hydrocarbon revenues since 2014 and the Covid-19 pandemic had made his country even more dependent. from foreign aid and funding. Then the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) decided, in spite of everything, not to appoint anyone yet, and only two months before the elections the head of state returned.
He says he foiled 10 coup attempts.
“I have been in power for too long, but people still want me to be their president. This is the last time I will appear,” however, he trusted the weekly Jeune Afrique shortly before his re-election in 2016. , (…) but I can’t help it if he has talent.”
Very strict Teodoro Obiang – the opposite of his son – is reputed to be an ascetic, healthy lifestyle and daily sports. On August 3, 1979, it was with arms in hand, with officers, that he overthrew his uncle, the bloodthirsty dictator Francisco Macias Nguemu, who was shot two months later.
He held the fear of a coup d’état. His praetorian guard is made up of soldiers from his clan who are considered loyal, but – one should never be too careful – his closest bodyguards are Israelis, and the security of the palace is partially entrusted to the Zimbabweans and Ugandans.
Since coming to power, he claims to have thwarted at least ten coup or assassination attempts, and to each of them Malabo has responded with increased repression, indiscriminately blaming the exiled opposition and “foreign powers”.
Teodoro Obiang, the first head of a country without great resources, treated with arrogance by other African presidents, benefited from the discovery of oil in territorial waters in the early 1990s. The cards are shuffled, the country is enriched. The very sparsely populated country ranks third in Africa in terms of GDP per capita in 2021, according to the World Bank, but wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few families, the vast majority of its 1.4 million people. live below the poverty line.
Equatorial Guinea is regularly cited by NGOs as one of the countries with the highest levels of corruption. As such, Theodorin Obiang was finally given a three-year suspended sentence and a €30 million fine in France’s “illegal proceeds” case in July, his assets frozen and he is prohibited from remaining in the United Kingdom. United since 2021 for “corruption” and “waste of public funds” in his country, and in the same year he had to give up $26 million worth of assets in the United States to end corruption prosecutions.
Aptly dubbed the “North Korea of Africa” by Obiang’s detractors, this small country is not infrequent with arrests or disappearances of adversaries, and many of them have taken refuge abroad, particularly in Spain, the former colonial power.