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Equatorial Guinea: Ruling party congress concludes without announcement of presidential candidate

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Ludovic Marin/Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea has created surprise by not choosing its candidate for the 2023 presidential election at the ruling party's congress. This is a first in a country ruled by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

The Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), the only party until 1991 when the government tolerated some "opposition" movements, held its seventh congress in Bata, the economic capital from Monday November 22 to Wednesday November 24.

This is usually the occasion to designate its candidate for a seven-year term at the head of the country. But to everyone's surprise, in an evening that lasted until late till Wednesday night, no such announcement was made. Instead many of the debates at the congress revolved around the economic crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr. Obiang, who came to power in a coup in 1979, has been on the political sidelines for several months, to the benefit of his son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed "Teodorin". The latter, vice-president of the Republic and vice-president of the PDGE, who has been omnipresent in public recently, has long been presented as his successor.

**"It is the person in place who remains" ****"Better a friend well known than a new friend to know,"** the old head of state told his supporters at the opening of the congress on Monday, without giving further details.

Mr. Obiang holds, with 42 years, the world record of longevity of a head of state still alive at the head of a country, except monarchies, and it remains to be seen if he would be runing for another secen year term

"The natural outcome of this congress is to maintain the status quo, with Teodoro Obiang candidate for a new term," had predicted to AFP, just before the congress, Ana Lucia Sa, professor of political science at the University of Lisbon, specialist in Equatorial Guinea. "But there are more and more tensions within the ruling elite to prepare the post-Teodoro," she had analyzed.

For the delegates who left the Palace of Congress, the current head of state is still a candidate for his succession. "The fact that the son is not designated a candidate by the congress simply says that it is the person who is in place that remains".

About 1.3 million people live in Equatorial Guinea, a country rich in oil and gas.

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