World’s longest-serving president seeks to extend his 43-year reign

Equatorial Guinea votes on Sunday in a general election in which President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the world’s longest-serving president, is likely to retain his position as leader of the tiny oil-producing West African nation.

In a country with a population of around 1.5 million, almost 400 thousand individuals registered to vote. In addition, 100 members of the lower house of parliament, 55 of the country’s 70 senators, and local mayors will be elected.

Observers expect no shocks. The 80-year-old Obiang has consistently been elected with more than 90 percent of the vote in elections whose legitimacy has been questioned by international observers due to long-standing accusations by rights organizations about a lack of political liberty.

He is competing against two opposition candidates for a sixth term: Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu, who is running for the sixth time against Obiang, and Andrés Esono Ondo, who is running for the first time.

According to Maja Bovcon, a senior Africa analyst at the risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, there is no suspense in the next presidential election.

“The closing of borders, persecution, and arrests of opposition supporters have paved the path for the prolongation of Obiang’s 43-year rule,” she stated.

In separate comments, the United States and the European Union called for free and fair elections and expressed alarm about alleged harassment and intimidation of the opposition and civil society organizations.

The administration denied the reports, deeming them meddling with its electoral process.

Since its independence in 1968 from Spain, Equatorial Guinea has only had two presidents. In 1979, Obiang staged a coup against his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema.

Obiang said on Friday, the last day of his campaign, that he had chosen to forward the presidential election by several months and hold it alongside parliamentary and municipal elections in order to save money in light of the current economic situation.

Approximately three-quarters of the nation’s revenue is derived from the extraction of oil and gas. In contrast, production has decreased in recent years, from roughly 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2015 to approximately 93,000 barrels per day (bpd).