DAKAR, Nov 20 (Reuters) – The world’s longest-ruling leader, President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, held a vote on Sunday to extend his 43-year term in a small, authoritarian African state where he once there was abundant oil wealth. a rapid decline.
“What you sow is what you reap,” said Obiang, 80, who has regularly won more than 90 percent of the vote in elections held over the course of five terms since he wrested power from his uncle in a coup. of state in 1979.
“I am sure that the victory belongs to the PDGE,” he said in reference to his party.
Two opposition candidates are running: Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu, who has already run in the five previous elections, and Andrés Esono Ondo, an opposition figure running for the first time.
“It’s a complete fraud,” Esono Ondo told Reuters by telephone, saying his party would challenge the result in court.
He said an appearance of fair voting was taking place in the island’s capital, Malabo, but his party had evidence that officials elsewhere were casting votes on behalf of voters or forcing them to vote for the ruling party.
Equatorial Guinea’s government and electoral directorate officials could not be reached for comment.
Maja Bovcon, senior Africa analyst at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, said the election outcome was in no doubt: “The closure of borders and the harassment and arrests of opposition supporters have paved the way for the extension of Obiang’s 43-year term. rule.”
The United States and the European Union called for free and fair elections, and expressed concern about reports of harassment and intimidation of opposition and civil society groups. The government rejected the accusations as interference in its electoral process.
Closing his campaign on Friday, Obiang said he decided to move the presidential election forward several months and hold it alongside legislative and municipal elections, to save money due to the economic crisis.
Oil and gas production accounts for around three quarters of revenue in the OPEC member state. But production has declined in recent years to around 93,000 barrels per day (bpd), from around 160,000 bpd in 2015, as oil fields mature.
More than 400,000 people registered to vote in the country of about 1.5 million. Voters will also vote to elect 100 members of parliament for the lower house, 55 of the country’s 70 senators and local mayors.
Information from Bate Felix; Edited by Cooper Inveen, Frances Kerry, Peter Graff
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