ACCRA, Ghana – Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo born 5 June 1942) is an Equatorial Guinean politician who has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979.
He ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in an August 1979 military coup and has overseen Equatorial Guinea’s emergence as an important oil producer, beginning in the 1990s. Obiang was Chairperson of the African Union from 31 January 2011 to 29 January 2012. He is the second-longest consecutively serving current non-royal national leader in the world.
Obiang has been widely accused of corruption and abuse of power. In marked contrast to the trend toward democracy in most of Africa, Equatorial Guinea is currently a dominant-party state, in which Obiang’s Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) holds all governing power in the nation. The constitution provides Obiang sweeping powers, including the right to rule by decree, effectively making his government a legal dictatorship.
In July 2003, state-operated radio declared Obiang “the country’s god” with “all power over men and things.” It added that the president was “in permanent contact with the Almighty” and “can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell.” He personally made similar comments in 1993. Macías had also proclaimed himself a god.
Abuses under Obiang have included “unlawful killings by security forces; government-sanctioned kidnappings; systematic torture of prisoners and detainees by security forces; life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; impunity; arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention.”
The few private media outlets in the country are largely owned by persons close to Obiang. Freedoms of association and of assembly are severely curtailed, and the government imposes restrictive conditions on the registration and operation of nongovernmental organizations. The few local activists who work on human rights-related issues face intimidation, harassment, and reprisals.
Forbes magazine has said that Obiang, with a net worth of US$600 million, is one of the world’s wealthiest heads of state.
In 2003, Obiang told his citizenry that he felt compelled to take full control of the national treasury in order to prevent civil servant.
In 2016, the President appointed his biological playboy son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue as the country vice president. To date, both father and son run the country like a family business.