Equatorial Guinea has eliminated its main political opposition party, with the country’s courts dissolving Citizens for Innovation (CI) and sentencing dozens of its members to lengthy prison terms after determining the CI is a threat to security in President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s small West African nation.
The decision this week follows troubles that began in the runup to the November 12 legislative elections when police dispersed an opposition rally and some officers were injured in clashes that led to arrests.
The CI party won one parliamentary seat in those elections – the only one in 100 that’s not held by the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) – which, according to some analysts, was viewed as an affront to the president’s power. He has held office since 1979, and CI leader Gabriel Nsé Obiang says it’s clear that he wanted to crush any opposition, no matter how small their victories.
“For a simple fight, you have to dissolve the party?” said Nsé Obiang in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE in which he also condemned the arrests, and the reported torture and death of opposition members, while fearing for his own life. He was not among those detained or sentenced.
Nsé Obiang said ending CI’s challenge to power was the reason Equatorial Guinea cracked down on its members and accused them of being part of a planned military coup in late December. The alleged Chadian leader of the group, arrested at the border with Cameroon, reportedly had ties to Nsé Obiang, who was arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment in May for “serious insults” against the president.
The December incident led security forces to take over CI headquarters in Malabo and Bata, with dozens of people detained in the process. Some CI members have now been sentenced to 30 years, according to RFI.
Image: Radio Macuto GE file