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Equatorial Guinea moves up presidential election by five months

Equatorial Guinea moves up presidential election by five months
Citizens line up to vote at a polling station in Malabo, April 24, 2016   -  
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Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday brought forward its presidential election by five months to November 20, at the same time as the legislative elections.

"The presidential, Chamber of Deputies, Senate, and municipal elections are called for November 20, 2022," according to a decree issued by the head of state, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, broadcasted on state television.

Mr. Obiang holds the world record for longevity in power among living heads of state, excluding monarchies.

The only issue at stake will be the designation of the candidate of the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), which holds 99 of the 100 seats in the outgoing lower house and all 70 seats in the Senate.

Will Mr. Obiang, 80, run for another term or will he let his son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed Teodorin, succeed him?

The latter, all-powerful and feared vice-president in charge of defense, a publicly assumed jet-setter has long been considered his father's successor and has been omnipresent on the political scene for the past two years.

However, the congress of the PDGE, which was to enthrone him as a candidate in November 2021, did not do so in the end, to the surprise of everyone.

With two months to go before the election, Equato-Guineans - but also observers and diplomats - are wondering who will win, Teodorin or the caciques of the regime who see the son as the head of this small country rich in hydrocarbons and are pushing the father to run again.

The outcome of the legislative elections is hardly in doubt, as in every election: the PDGE -a single party until 1991- should leave only a few crumbs to "tolerated" opposition movements among the few that are not the target of relentless repression regularly denounced by international NGOs.

Ten months ago, the party congress gave rise to unprecedented quarrels between supporters of Teodorin and Teodoro, who has been president since 1979 when he overthrew his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema in a coup.

The anticipation of the presidential elections was justified in Tuesday's decree by the need to group together costly polls in the midst of an economic crisis due to "the war in Ukraine" and the "covid pandemic", but observers see it more as the desire of one of the two camps to push what it believes to be its advantage.

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