Julio Obama Mefuman, a prominent political dissident and dual national of Spain and Equatorial Guinea, died in prison in January. His cause of death was not immediately known. He had been kidnapped from South Sudan in 2020 by agents of the Equatorial Guinea government who alleged that he had participated in a coup attempt. A week before Mefuman died, it was reported that a high court in Spain (the Audiencia Nacional) had opened an investigation into three senior security officials in Equatorial Guinea who are alleged to have led the kidnapping and torture of Mefuman and an associate (who is also a Spanish citizen). One of the individuals under investigation is Carmelo Ovono Obiang, a son of President Obiang.
Equatorial Guinea is a consolidated authoritarian regime, so it was not a surprise that President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was declared the winner of the presidential election on 20 November. Already in power for 43 years, the 80-year-old was elected to a seven-year term. The official results awarded him 94.5 per cent of the valid votes, with 43 per cent of the voting age population participating in the election. He has never received less than 93 per cent of the votes for the president. His political party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) also won all 100 seats in the lower chamber of the legislature and all 55 seats in the upper chamber. The leader of the only legal opposition party (Andrés Esono Ondo of the Convergence for Social Democracy) denounced the election as fraudulent. However, the African Union electoral observation mission stated that “the general elections were in accordance with international standards and the national legal framework governing those elections.”
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been the president of Equatorial Guinea since seizing power in a coup d’état in 1979. His political party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), announced in September that he will run again in the election that will take place in November. Equatorial Guinea has been a dominant party state for decades, as the PDGE and the president’s inner circle control the most important offices of the state, and all but one of the seats in the bicameral legislature. In the last election in 2016, Obiang was said to have received more than 90 per cent of the votes.