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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Tutu Alicante

Interviewed January 4, 2011

President Obiang runs, rules, governs over a government in which, in a parliament of a hundred parliamentarians, one MP, one parliamentarian represents the opposition. All the judges in the country are handpicked personally by President Obiang. All the ministers – so one of his sons is minister of agriculture, one of his sons runs the minister of mine, one of his nephews runs the ministry of economy. The petrol company, the GEPEtrol, Guinea Ecuatorial Petroleos, is run by one of – his wife’s brothers.

So in all key positions, he has managed to place family members or people that have been with him since 1979. We have ministers in government that have been there since 1979 – 33 years, just like President Obiang. How has he been able to maintain power in Equatorial Guinea? It’s by controlling the military. He himself is the highest-ranking military officer in the nation. He has two brothers, both of whom are high-ranking generals. His son, who has no training militarily, no training college wise or education wise, is ranked general in the army. And all the other key positions, minister of defense, et cetera, are held by family members. Oil, discovered in 1994, which pushed the GDP per capita [measured by Purchasing Power Parity in constant international dollars] of the country to today about $37,000, has given Obiang the financial resources to buy off real political opposition inside and outside Equatorial Guinea.

Oil revenues have also given Obiang, President Obiang, the ability to buy off international pressure. So right now, in the CEMAC region, the Central African region, not a single government will speak out against what is happening in Equatorial Guinea. Even at a level of the African continent, not a single government wants to speak out about what’s happening there. President Obiang was chair of the African Union in 2010. During that period as the chair of the African Union, he represented Africa during G-8 summits, he represented Africa all global international conferences of stature.

Since then, he has agreed to host the UNASUR conference, which is a conference that brings together heads of state from Latin America and Africa. He has agreed to host the Sullivan Foundation forum [the Leon H. Sullivan Summit], which is a conference organized by the Sullivan Foundation based in Washington, D.C., that brings together heads of state from Africa. And he has held many other regional meetings bringing all these presidents together, all in an effort to show the international community that he’s running a legitimate government, and an effort that, unfortunately for the people of Equatorial Guinea, is giving the perception, the appearance that this president is one that is friendly for business purposes, is friendly for political purposes, is friendly or desirable for stability in the region.