Two candidates will face off in Equatorial Guinea on November 20 against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who is seeking a sixth term in office after more than 43 years at the helm of this small central African country, which he rules with an iron fist, state television announced on Saturday.
Re-elected in 2016 with more than 93.7% of the vote, Obiang, at 80, holds the world record for longevity in power for a living head of state, excluding monarchies, and Equatorial Guinea, rich in hydrocarbons, is one of the most closed and authoritarian states in the world.
The National Electoral Commission (CEN) on Friday closed the nomination period for the presidential, legislative, senatorial and municipal elections, scheduled for the same day, and officially proclaimed the successful candidates, according to state television, TVGE.
In addition to Mr Obiang for his all-powerful Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), the only party until 1991 in this former Spanish colony, Andrès Esono Ondo will be the candidate of the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS).
The PDGE holds 99 of the 100 seats in the outgoing National Assembly and all 55 seats in the Senate.
For several weeks, the police have been conducting a ruthless campaign of arrests and imprisonment of opponents on the grounds, according to the regime, that they have foiled a "plot" by the opposition (whose leaders live mostly in exile) that planned "attacks" against "gas stations, Western embassies and the homes of ministers.
Mr Esono Ondo is running for the first time, Mr Monsuy Asumu for the third. He had been a candidate - a "stooge" of the head of state according to the opposition - in 2002, 2009 and 2016, collecting only crumbs.
After the violent arrest of more than 150 activists of the banned Citizens for Innovation (CI) party, including its leader Gabriel Nse Obiang Obono, human rights activists such as Anacleto Micha Ndong Nlang, and a popular rapper critical of the government, Leoncio Prisco Eko Mba, alias Adjoguening, the Cameroon-based Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa (REDHAC) denounced in a statement "a wave of repression aimed at silencing the population (. ... in the run-up to the elections".