Magazine article New African

Equatorial Guinea: Mercenaries Cannot Stop Our Forward March

Magazine article New African

Equatorial Guinea: Mercenaries Cannot Stop Our Forward March

Article excerpt

In February, mercenaries tried to destabilise Equatorial Guinea and overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago's government. The attempt was nipped in the bud. In this interview, he tells New African's Khalid Bazid how foreign meddling has been the bane of Africa. "We are being prevented from achieving our aims because of foreign interference in African affairs. Our continent is a victim of its huge mineral resources," he said poignantly.


Q: The campaign for the national and local elections (25 April) is in full swing. What are your views on these elections.


A: First of all, I am impressed with the maturity of our people. You have seen for yourself the passion brought about by the electoral campaign. This represents a big contrast with the past when people were not used to exercising their right to vote. They were, in a way, a little bit disoriented, or even afraid. They did not fully understand the implications. For some, elections were almost a futile exercise. Since then, we have moved forward. This will be our third election and people have become used to them. The elections are held in a spirit of respect and competition. Our people have adopted the democratic process and this represents a great victory for our country.

Q: What makes these elections so different?

A: We have encouraged the political parties to participate fully. It is essential for our country to have strong political parties which represent the aspirations of the people. This is why the state directly finances the political parties. We have set up a National Commission whose purpose is to help create a large consensus among all players. Once a month, the heads of the different parties meet with the government to discuss important policy matters concerning our country. This practical strategy of making the main actors play a role in the decision-making process is our way of deepening democracy in our country.

Q: Are you happy with the balance in parliament between the opposition and the ruling party?

A: It is clear that the last elections were not easy for the opposition. This was probably the result of too many promises given and only a few kept. And the voters were unforgiving! The opposition now has a new opportunity to win back the electorate. This is an open game. We shall see what our people will decide. I don't want to guess, but everything is possible in politics.

Q: Personally, where do you see yourself in all this?

A: I consider myself to be the arbitrator or the referee, if you want. It is somewhat difficult to understand, as I am the president of the ruling party. But I am also the founding father of democracy in this country. In my role as the founding father, I have to be evenhanded and to arbitrate among the parties.

Being a head of state is a huge responsibility, which becomes even bigger if you are also the founding father of democracy. The only thing which really matters to me is to see democracy grow deeper roots in my country, a democracy in tune with the aspirations of the state, its institutions and its laws. We need all this to ensure stability and prosperity in the country.

I will tell you a secret. I would like the opposition to win more seats. This will bring a better balance in parliament. Of course, it will be the voters who will decide, but such a scenario will not displease me.


Q: Many people believed that these elections would be postponed because of the abortive coup d'etat here last month. Did you ever consider this possibility?

A: Never. It would have meant that the mercenaries and their masters had won! Let me make this clear to the whole world: Our country will not be destabilised. The timing of the mercenaries was not fortuitous. They wanted to prevent the elections taking place. But God protects our country. …

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