By Edward McAllister
DAKAR (Reuters) – The world’s longest-standing leader, President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, will run for office again in November elections, his party announced on Friday, likely extending a 43-year tenure that began when he snatched power in a 1979 coup.
The rule of Obiang, 80, has been marked by torture of political opponents, sham elections, and corruption, rights groups and foreign powers say. Obiang denies such charges.
Under him, the West African country has become increasingly reclusive and reliant on oil and gas, which provide about three quarters of state revenues. The money lines the pockets of those close to the president while the majority of the nation lives in poverty, rights groups say.
His son, Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, a jet-setter with a love for parties, fast cars, and jewelry, and who was convicted of embezzlement by a French court in 2020, said on Twitter on Friday that his father had been nominated to run again “due to his charisma, leadership and political experience”.
Another term will bring fresh challenges. The economy was knocked back by COVID-19 and a drop in oil prices, although the Ukraine war and the resulting need for non-Russian oil and gas may help spur growth.
Widespread poverty remains. That was laid bare when a series of explosions at an army barracks flattened a part of the coastal city of Bata last year, killing about 100 people and triggering an aid response from former colonial power Spain.
(Reporting by Edward McAllister; editing by Diane Craft)