Malabo – Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longest ruling head of state in the world excluding monarchs, is set to be named candidate for a sixth term at a party congress next week.
Just a few weeks ago, Obiang’s wealthy jet-setter son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed “Teodorin”, seemed to have been lined up to stand in 2023 elections.
But power brokers in the small oil state appear to have decided it is too soon, according to observers on the ground who spoke to AFP but wished to remain anonymous.
Agustin Nze Nfumu, one of the five vice-presidents of Obiang’s Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), said Teodoro Obiang, who has ruled for 42 years, was “the man for the job”.
“Age does not matter, his brain is still functioning perfectly,” he told AFP.
“He is still the president of our party and he will continue to be, the president-founder is full of experience.”
The PDGE was the country’s single legal political movement until 1991, when multi-party politics were introduced.
But Obiang himself has never officially been re-elected with less than 93 percent of the vote.
His party holds its seventh congress on Monday and Tuesday in Bata, the economic capital.
Delegates must name their candidate for 2023 elections, for a seven-year term.
Ana Lucia Sa, politics professor at the University of Lisbon and a specialist in Equatorial Guinea, said “the natural outcome of this congress is to maintain the status quo with Teodoro Obiang running for a new term.”
Obiang seized power in a coup in 1979 that led to the execution of his feared, ruthless uncle and predecessor Francisco Macias Nguema after a trial for treason, genocide and corruption.
Macias, a self-proclaimed sorcerer who collected skulls, had Nazi-style notions of ethnic purity. He ruled by fear, sparing few families in waves of killings and atrocities that provoked a mass exodus to neighbouring countries.
Obiang then began building omnipotent security services to monitor all aspects of public life under his own authority.
Ana Lucia Sa said there were “more and more tensions within the ruling elite to prepare for the post-Teodoro era”.
Whether that will involve his son Teodorin, now 53, remains to be seen.
Teodorin has been sentenced in France to a three-year suspended prison term and a fine of 30 million euros (nearly $34 million) for having fraudulently accumulated luxury properties and goods.
His is the most advanced of several cases opened against mainly members of the African elite over ill-gotten assets.
In July, the United Kingdom also froze Teodorin Obiang’s financial assets and barred him from entering its territory, accusing him of embezzling public funds to finance a lavish lifestyle, which Malabo disputes.
Equatorial Guinea’s considerable oil and natural gas reserves were discovered in 1996.
But the World Bank estimates that the vast majority of the 1.3 million inhabitants still live below the poverty line.
Picture: Getty Images