Equatorial Guinea leader Obiang, 80, seeks to extend 43-year rule | Elections News

Obiang, the world’s longest-standing president, needs to increase his 43-year rule within the oil-rich Central African nation.

On Sunday, Equatorial Guinea will maintain elections during which the world’s longest-standing president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, will search to increase his 43-year authoritarian rule, marked by alleged rights abuses and corruption.

The West African oil-producing nation of about 1.5 million individuals has had solely two presidents since independence from Spain in 1968; Obiang and his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema who he eliminated in a coup in 1979.

The 80-year-old Obiang, all the time elected with greater than 90 % of votes in polls worldwide observers have questioned, is vying for a sixth time period in opposition to two different candidates: Andres Esono Ondo and Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu.

Parliamentary and native elections will probably be held on the similar time.

Oil and fuel manufacturing accounts for about three-quarters of revenues within the OPEC member state. However output has dwindled in recent times to about 93,000 barrels per day (bpd), from about 160,000 bpd in 2015 as a consequence of maturing fields.

Though the tiny Gulf of Guinea nation has seen main investments in infrastructure, critics say beneath Obiang, oil wealth has lined the pockets of his entourage, who flash luxurious existence whereas a lot of the inhabitants reside in poverty.

Obiang can be accused of muzzling dissent and freedom of expression. The federal government has denied the accusations.

Protests are principally forbidden, media is closely managed, and it isn’t unusual for political opponents to be arbitrarily arrested and tortured, rights teams say.

Intimidation has elevated within the run-up to the polls, activists say, with authorities focusing on civil society teams and critics of the regime.

In September, safety forces raided the headquarters of a banned opposition occasion – the one one with a seat in parliament – and detained at the very least 100 of its members.

“On Sunday, individuals will forged the vote the federal government expects them to, since you can not freely communicate up your thoughts in Equatorial Guinea,” human rights activist Tutu Alicante informed Reuters.

“No matter It Takes”

Repression earlier than the vote has offset efforts by Obiang to enhance his picture overseas, the most recent seen in a transfer to abolish the dying penalty earlier this 12 months.

“He’s washing his face in entrance of the worldwide group,” stated Amnesty Worldwide’s Senior Campaigner for West Africa Marta Colomer.

Alleged corruption has additionally tainted Obiang’s tenure regardless of a number of pledges to extend transparency.

His son, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who observers see as a possible successor, was convicted for embezzlement by a French court docket in 2020.

Property that overseas powers say he purchased with ill-gotten good points embody a crystal-covered glove worn by Michael Jackson, an armoured Rolls-Royce limousine and a yacht.

Each father and son have persistently denied wrongdoing.

If re-elected, Obiang will face new challenges. The financial system was hit by COVID-19 and though the battle in Ukraine has boosted demand for non-Russian oil it has additionally introduced a pointy rise in meals costs.

“The opposition doesn’t stand an opportunity,” Alicante stated. “He’s going to do no matter it takes to not depart energy.”

Thai court to rule on Prime Minister Prayuth’s political future | News

Thailand’s Constitutional Court docket is scheduled to ship a call on the time period restrict of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a ruling that ought to resolve on whether or not the previous Thai military chief has surpassed his most eight years in workplace or not.

The court docket is anticipated to announce its choice on Friday at 3pm native time [08:00 GMT] as as to if Prayuth’s time in workplace must be counted as beginning when he turned head of a army administration on August 24, 2014, after launching a coup to take away Thailand’s elected Pheu Thai celebration authorities.

Prayuth’s critics cite the 2014 date and have argued that he’s now obliged to resign as his eight years in workplace have expired.

Supporters of Prayuth keep that his time period as prime minister must be counted from when a military-drafted structure containing the eight-year time period restrict was adopted in 2017 or when Prayuth took workplace after his election as a civilian prime minister in 2019.

In a shock transfer, Prayuth was suspended as prime minister in August by the Constitutional Court docket, which had accepted a petition from Thailand’s political opposition calling for it to rule on whether or not the premier had exhausted his time in workplace.

The petition was signed by 171 members of Thailand’s Home of Representatives, and the nine-member Constitutional Court docket responded by saying it had ample witnesses and proof to proceed to a ruling.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has served as Thailand’s caretaker premier since Prayuth’s suspension.

Prawit and Prayuth are each former military commanders and have been comrades in arms for many years. Prawit is broadly anticipated to change into prime minister if the court docket guidelines in opposition to Prayuth.

Mark Cogan, affiliate professor of Peace and Battle Research at Kansai Gaidai College in Japan, stated a possible situation is that the court docket guidelines that Prayuth’s time period began with the brand new structure in 2017.

“That’s in all probability the most definitely resolution,” Cogan stated, including that such an end result would inflict “the least injury politically” and permits for “a easy transition” for Prayuth.

If, alternatively, the court docket guidelines that his time period began in 2019, which signifies that Prayuth may keep in workplace till 2027, that might “make lots of people sad”, Cogan informed Al Jazeera.

Boiling level

Courts in Thailand, just like the army, are a key component of the nation’s ruling elite and have constantly turned again challenges which may up-end Thailand’s established political and social order.

Joshua Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia on the Council on International Relations, says that Prayuth has been a “extremely ineffective prime minister,” and Thais are livid that he desires to proceed in energy.

“With the courts in Thailand nonetheless extremely loyal to the army and its allies, it’s actually doable {that a} choose will rule that Prayuth’s clock must be reset to begin 2019, permitting him to run for prime minister once more subsequent yr,” Kurlantzick wrote lately.

“On account of Prayuth’s continued autocratic rule, in addition to usually poor coverage administration, anger among the many political opposition in Thailand is at a boil,” he says.

Although suspended from his function as premier, Prayuth has remained in Cupboard as Thailand’s defence minister.

Making his first public outing in late August after his suspension as premier, Prayuth visited a safety and defence exhibition the place he was photographed inspecting assault rifles.

He declined to reply questions on his suspension by the court docket.

Controversy over the size of Prayuth’s time in workplace is the newest episode in almost twenty years of intermittent political turmoil in Thailand, together with coups and violent protests, stemming from opposition to army involvement in politics, and calls for for higher illustration as political consciousness grows.

If the court docket decides that Prayuth has reached his time period restrict of eight years, it can mark the tip of considered one of Thailand’s longest-serving prime ministers and can come simply months forward of a common election, which is scheduled for March subsequent yr.

Nonetheless, Prayuth’s personal political star had been waning even earlier than his suspension. He had change into the main target of huge youth-led pro-democracy rallies that sprang up in Bangkok in 2020 and referred to as for his resignation.

He had additionally are available in for criticism over his obvious poor administration of the Thai economic system, the nation’s poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his personal rise to energy with the 2014 army coup, which critics say was illegitimate.