Monday, January 23, 2017

Equatorial Guinea

Gambia's former dictator Yahya Jammeh, who took power in a coup in 1994 and once said he would rule for a billion years, lost the latest election but refused to concede victory.   Last week, under pressure from West African nations, he decided to take as much loot as possible with him into exile in Equatorial Guinea.   There he will join the equally odious Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who having come to power in a coup on August 3, 1979 is the longest reigning dictator and in the top 20 of the world's richest leaders.

Equatorial Guinea is a brutal kleptocracy,  a one party state controlled by the Democratic [sic] Party of Equatorial Guinea.   Obiang usually wins elections time after time Mugabe style,   with more than 90% of votes in his favour.   Censorship is pervasive.   Equatorial Guinea’s oil  wealth does not benefit the 99%: the majority of the population exists on less than $1 a day, lacks access to clean drinking water and 20 percent of children die before the age of 5.   Yet, unlike Mugabe, Obiang has had a positive relationship with the US.   Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regarded him as a "good friend," and in 2009, President Obama posed for an official photograph with Obiang at a New York reception.   John Bennett, US ambassador to Equatorial Guinea from 1991 to 1994, in a candid moment explained why Washington turned a blind eye to Obiangs’ corruption and repression: ''Of course, it's because of the oil''.     He added, ''..if Zimbabwe had Equatorial Guinea’s oil, Zimbabwean officials wouldn’t still be blocked from the U.S.”

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