Predators of Press Freedom: Equatorial Guinea - Teodoro Obiang Nguema

Teodoro Obiang Nguema, President, Equatorial Guinea

The years pass but nothing changes in the "Kuwait of Africa," the fiefdom of a leader described by the national radio station as the "God of Equatorial Guinea." President Obiang Nguema was reelected at the end of 2009 with 96.7 per cent of the votes in polling that many international media including the Spanish daily El País were prevented from covering. The president maintains absolute control over this small oil state in the Gulf of Guinea.

The privately-owned press is limited to a few small newspapers. The country has no journalists' union or press freedom organization. The stranglehold which the president and his family maintain over the economy is accompanied by an overwhelming personality cult. The international media have just one correspondent in the capital, who is closely watched. The authorities nonetheless continue to insist that the lack of media pluralism is due to poverty and that the high percentages the president gets in every election are "the result of acceptance of his policies." The national radio and TV broadcaster RTVGE has not been allowed to mention the unrest and revolutions that have been shaking the Arab world since the start of 2011. The official pretext is that, as African Union president since January 2011, Obiang Nguema has an overriding obligation to respect neutrality.


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