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Equatorial Guinea's president defends himself and his family against growing accusations

December 26th, 2012
in:Humans
by:Sara Jabril
located in:Equatorial Guinea, France
tags:Africa, BBC, dictator, Equatorial Guinea, France, hardtalk, Interview, oil, Paris, president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

Ever since the Arab Spring took off in 2010, and started spreading from country to country, it has brought an end to the rule of some of the world's longest serving leaders. Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya for 42 years, while Hosni Mubarak had a 30 year run. In Tunisia, Zine El-Abdine Ben Ali served as president for almost 24 years. The list goes on- whether ousted or still in office.

While names such as Ben Ali or Hosni Mubarak have become well-known across the globe, one man has managed to steer clear of wider international interest and media condemnation- until now.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled over Equatorial Guinea since 1979, which makes him the longest serving head of state in Africa, as fairplanet reported previously. Since the 1990s, Equatorial Guinea had emerged as an important West African economy. The relatively small state has since become the third biggest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of the population, however, live in absolute poverty.

After several accusations of corruption against Mr. Obiang's son, who is also Equatorial Guinea's vice president, the president has addressed these issues for the first time in public, deciding to grant the Western media several interviews, of which the most notable was one that aired on the BBC's Hardtalk programme recently.

In response to a question concerning the poverty issues of his country, President Obiang had the following to say:

"In this country we do not know what poverty is, but we do have shortages, that is normal. In this country people live according to their mind set. There is a kind of psychological poverty here that means that even when people are given an opportunity they can remain stuck in the same place."

He also dismissed accusations of corruption made against him and his family as "false", saying that his family "is not involved with oil resources." Moreover, when asked how he would explain his son's vast amount of personal wealth, he referred to the fact that Teodorin Mangue is a businessman of his own making, who has worked in the forestry business long before he became an official member of the state of Equatorial Guinea.

As fairplanet reported earlier, France became the leading international voice criticising Obiang's regime, confiscating many of his son's Paris-based assets that he is believed to have acquired by means of misappropriated state funds. During the BBC interview, the controversial leader was asked whether his son intends to appear in French courts to defend himself, to which he countered:

"The problem is that the process in Paris is a farce, a political set-up. We have a mutual investment protection agreement with them and French companies have invested in Equatorial Guinea. If a citizen from Equatorial Guinea, such as my son, has investments in Paris, France does not have the right to confiscate his wealth, as that is a violation of the signed agreement."

Lastly, the Equatorial Guinean president encouraged those who criticise him to come to his country in order to "find out real information" instead of that, which "just comes from their laboratories in Europe or from the United Nations".

Watch the entire BBC Hardtalk interview here

Article written by:
Sara Jabril
Author
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