Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Obiang in October 2019
|2nd President of Equatorial Guinea|
3 August 1979
|Preceded by||Francisco Macías Nguema|
|9th Chairperson of the African Union|
31 January 2011 – 29 January 2012
|Preceded by||Bingu wa Mutharika|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Boni Yayi|
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
5 June 1942
Acoacán, Spanish Guinea (now Equatorial Guinea)
|Political party||Democratic Party|
Constancia Mangue (m. 1968)
|Relatives||Francisco Macías Nguema (uncle)
Armengol Ondo (brother)
|Alma mater||Colegio Nacional Enrique Nvó Okenve|
|Allegiance||Francoist Spain (until 1968)
Equatorial Guinea (after 1968)
|Branch/service||Armed Forces of Equatorial Guinea|
|Years of service||1968–1982|
|Commands||Chief of General Staff|
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Spanish pronunciation: [teoˈðoɾo oˈβjaŋɡ eŋˈɡema embaˈsoɣo]; born 5 June 1942) is an Equatoguinean politician and former military officer who has served as the 2nd president of Equatorial Guinea since August 1979. He is the longest-serving president of any country ever and the second-longest consecutively-serving current non-royal national leader in the world.
After graduating from military school, Obiang held numerous positions under the presidency of his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, including director of the notorious Black Beach prison. He ousted Macías in a 1979 military coup and took control of the country as President and chairman of the Supreme Military Council junta. After the country's nominal return to civilian rule in 1982, he founded the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) in 1987 which was the country's sole legal party until 1992. He has overseen Equatorial Guinea's emergence as an important oil producer, beginning in the 1990s. Obiang was Chairperson of the African Union from 2011 to 2012.
Obiang heads an authoritarian regime in Equatorial Guinea. He has been widely accused of corruption and abuse of power. Under his rule, Equatorial Guinea continues to have one of the worst human rights records in the world. In marked contrast to the trend toward democracy in most of Africa, Equatorial Guinea is currently a dominant-party state, in which Obiang's PDGE holds virtually all governing power in the nation and almost all seats in the legislature. The constitution provides Obiang sweeping powers, including the right to rule by decree, effectively making his government a legal dictatorship. Obiang has placed family members in key government positions.
From a family of the Esangui ethnic clan, he was born in the town of Acoacán (Mongomo district, Wele-Nzas province), belonging to the colony of Spanish Guinea, on the current border with Gabon, within the Continental Equatorial Guinea. Son of the Gabonese Santiago Nguema Eneme Obama and María Mbasogo Ngui, Obiang was the third of ten brothers, among whom are also the National Security Delegate Armengol Ondo Nguema and former National Defense Minister Antonio Mba Nguema. Obiang's parents emigrated from Gabon to avoid paying capitation taxes and take advantage of the good economic situation in Spanish Guinea. After the death of María Mbasogo Ngui, Obiang and his brothers were raised by his father and his new wife Carmen Mikue Mbira.
Education and formation
Obiang completed his first studies at the Cardenal Cisneros School Group in Ebebiyin and at the La Salle Center in Bata (now the Enrique Nov Okenve National College), where he obtained a degree in labor administration.
Obiang joined the Colonial Guard during Equatorial Guinea's colonial period and attended the General Military Academy in Zaragoza, Spain. He achieved the rank of lieutenant after his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, was elected the country's first president. Under Macías, Obiang held various positions, including the governor of Bioko and leader of the National Guard. He was also head of Black Beach Prison, notorious for severely torturing its inmates.
- Further information: Human rights in Equatorial Guinea
After Macías ordered the murders of several members of the family they shared, including Obiang's brother, Obiang and others in Macías's inner circle feared the president had become insane. Obiang overthrew his uncle on 3 August 1979 in a bloody coup d'état, and placed him on trial for his actions, including the genocide of the Bubi people, over the previous decade. Macías was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad on 29 September 1979. A new Moroccan presidential guard was required to form the firing squad, because local soldiers feared his alleged magical powers.
Obiang declared that the new government would make a fresh start from Macías's brutal and repressive régime. He granted amnesty to political prisoners, and ended the previous régime's system of forced labor. However, he made virtually no mention of his own role in the atrocities committed under his uncle's rule.
The country nominally returned to civilian rule in 1982, with the enactment of a slightly less authoritarian constitution. At the same time, Obiang was elected to a seven-year term as president; he was the only candidate. He was reelected in 1989, again as the only candidate. After other parties were nominally allowed to organize in 1992, he was reelected in 1996 and 2002 with 98 percent of the vote in elections condemned as fraudulent by international observers. In 2002, for instance, at least one voting district was recorded as giving Obiang 103 percent of the vote.
He was reelected for a fourth term in 2009 with 97% of the vote, again amid accusations of voter fraud and intimidation, beating opposition leader Plácido Micó Abogo.
Obiang's rule was at first considered more humane than that of his uncle. By some accounts, however, it has become increasingly brutal, and has bucked the larger trend toward greater democracy in Africa. According to most domestic and international observers, he leads one of the most corrupt, ethnocentric and repressive regimes in the world. Equatorial Guinea is essentially a one-party state dominated by Obiang's Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE). The constitution grants Obiang sweeping powers, including the power to rule by decree.
Although opposition parties were legalized in 1992, the legislature remains dominated by the PDGE, and there is no substantive opposition to executive decisions. At present, every Senate seat and all but one seat in the Chamber of Deputies is held by the PDGE. There have never been more than eight opposition deputies in the lower house, while the PDGE has held every seat in the Senate since its inception in 2013. For all intents and purposes, Obiang holds all governing power in the nation.
The opposition is barely tolerated; indeed, a 2006 article in Der Spiegel quoted Obiang as asking, "What right does the opposition have to criticize the actions of a government?" The opposition is severely hampered by the lack of a free press as a vehicle for their views. There are no newspapers and all broadcast media are either owned outright by the government or controlled by its allies.
Equatorial Guinea's relations with the United States cooled in 1993, after Ambassador John E. Bennett was accused of practicing witchcraft at the graves of 10 British airmen who were killed when their plane crashed there during World War II. Bennett left after receiving a death threat at the U.S. Embassy in Malabo in 1994. In his farewell address, he publicly named the government's most notorious torturers, including Equatorial Guinea's Minister of National Security, Manuel Nguema Mba, another Obiang uncle. No new envoy was appointed, and the embassy was closed in 1996, leaving its affairs to be handled by the embassy in neighboring Cameroon.
Things turned around for the Obiang regime after the terrorist attacks in 2001 on New York and Washington, after which the United States re-prioritized its dealings with key African states. On 25 January 2002, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, a neoconservative Israeli-based think tank, sponsored a forum on 15 May 2006. Speaking at the IASPS forum, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter H. Kansteiner said, "African oil is of national strategic interest to us, and it will increase and become more important as we move forward."
In a lengthy state visit from March to April 2006, President Obiang sought to reopen the closed embassy in the US, saying that "the lack of a U.S. diplomatic presence is definitely holding back economic growth." President Obiang was warmly greeted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who called him a "good friend". Public relations company Cassidy & Associates may have been partially responsible for the change in tone between Obiang and the United States government. Since 2004, Cassidy had been employed by the dictator's government at a rate of at least $120,000 a month.
By October 2006, however, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had raised concerns about the proposal to build the new embassy on land owned by Obiang, whom the United Nations Commission on Human Rights accused of directly overseeing the torture of opponents. The new embassy chancery opened in 2013.
Obiang reportedly favours his son Teodoro Nguema to succeed him.
- Philippines: Grand Collar of the Order of Lakandula, Rank of Supremo (19 May 2006)
- Suriname: Grand Officer Honorary Order of the Yellow Star