Friday, November 21, 2014

Equatorial Guinea’s National Dialogue Successfully Amends Current Political Laws


Meeting brought together legalized and non-legalized political parties to discuss current laws amendments

The government of Equatorial Guinea held a national dialogue with the goal of reviewing and improving the current laws affecting the political parties of the country. All political parties and movements, including expatriate groups, were invited to participate. The meetings were held at the Sipopo Conference Center in the capital city of Malabo on November 7-15, 2014.

National dialogue participants reviewed the national laws affecting political participation, expression and organization, such as the Political Parties Law, the Meeting and Demonstration Law; the Binding Pact and its evaluation; as well as the Regulatory Law of Presidential Elections.

Participants were able to work on an agreement to facilitate the creation of political parties offer proposals for amendments to these laws, and offer initiates to open the political environment in the country. The Government has already agreed to the removal of the deposit of 30 million CFA francs to found a new political party and reduce the number of co-founders in different constituencies necessary.

After a weeklong series debates, participants agreed on some necessary changes. They made numerous modifications in the principal laws related to elections and political parties, relaxed the requirements to create political parties and stand for election, and established new rules to keep better track of the Binding Pact of parties, which will guide the development of multiparty democracy in Equatorial Guinea.

The legalized political parties that signed the final agreement included the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), Popular Union (UP), Democratic Liberal Convention (CLD), Social Democratic Party (PSD), Progressive Democratic Alliance (ADP), Social Democratic Union (UDS), Democratic and Popular Social Convergence (CSDP), Party of the Democratic Social Coalition (PCSD), Popular Action of Equatorial Guinea (APGE), National Democratic Union (UDENA), Socialist Party of Equatorial Guinea (PSGE), and Liberal Party (PL).

The non-legalized signing parties were: Center Right Union (UCD), Independent Candidature (CI), Renewed Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDSR) Self-Determination Movement of the Island of Bioko (MAIB), Popular Union (UP), National Democratic Party (PND), National Liberation Front of Equatorial Guinea (FRENALIGE) and Faction of Popular Action of Equatorial Guinea (APGE). Among the independent activists: Ramon Ecoro, of Sweden and the group of the civil society coming from Gabon.

In his opening remarks, President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said, “Democracy and national unity must be priorities in the problems that affect the nation, since it has been thanks to preserving the peace that the development and progress the country is experiencing has been guaranteed.” 

He continued to say, “Where there is no dialogue, there cannot be peace and stability; where there are no public liberties, there cannot be institutional development, like there is in Equatorial Guinea, despite the fact that we are a young country.” 

“The processes of consensual dialogue has guaranteed peace and development. Equatorial Guinea, which used to be a poor country and is now a model country of development in Africa, thanks to the peace that guarantees this continual progress. We have adopted the Horizon 2020 Development Plan in which the representatives of the Government, the political sector and civil society participate. All human work is susceptible to error. This dialogue was not called due to a crisis situation; it is a meeting that the Government has provided. In the country there is an atmosphere of peace, stability and national harmony,” added Obiang.

Obiang encouraged political parties to have a dialogue for the betterment of the country. “We are a young country that does not have the political experience of other older nations; for this reason it is necessary to listen to other compatriots that, from another point of view, express their disconformity with the evolution of our country.

“This political process has allowed the reform of the Constitution on three occasions,” the President said, “with the participation of all the political agents who expressed their willingness to participate in these changes; which have been backed in referendum by the people of Equatorial Guinea.”

While addressing the political parties, President Obiang said that this dialogue was not called because Equatorial Guinea is experiencing a crisis, and much less a state of war or of exception; it is a roundtable discussion that the Government promotes to listen to the politicians that disseminate distorted opinions on the Equatoguinean reality. 

Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, sent a congratulatory message to President Obiang applauding the national dialogue initiative and said this was “a good opportunity to explain constructive options, that ensure the progress of Africa.”

Prior to the national dialogue, President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo granted an amnesty to all citizens who had been convicted of political crimes, whether or not they have served or are serving sentences, and to those who have begun any disciplinary action that constitutes an obstacle to the exercise of political activities. The government  also covered airfare for expatriates through Equatorial Guinea’s national airline, Ceiba Intercontinental, on its Madrid-Malabo flights to encourage all political parties to participate in this historical meeting.

This was the fifth national dialogue the government of Equatorial Guinea has organized since its independence in 1979. It has granted three previous general amnesties.

Some opposition leaders walked out of the conference on the first working day, but returned later. Some groups and activists of the diaspora asked the Government to facilitate the legalization of their parties and release two prisoners they considered to be political. On Friday night, the Prime Minister, Vicente Ehate Tomi, confirmed that both issues had also been accepted by the Government, and the two prisoners were released on that same day.

Rules were also introduced so that the state communications media would reserve free promotion and advertising space for the different democratic factions, and their commitment to giving proportional and neutral treatment.

In his closing remarks, Obiang said, “We believe that the consensus that was reached has a national scope, since from now on its decisions will benefit the development of the democracy in our country and will strengthen all the political groups. This Dialogue has not acted to satisfy the desires of a political group, but rather of all the political forces of the Nation as a whole. We believe that the set of laws that protect public freedom was amply reviewed, and we have been able to listen to the important claims posed by the political forces. If any important decision has been taken by this dialogue, it has been thanks to the experience and political maturity of the active participation of everyone.”

Obiang discussed the economic situation in Equatorial Guinea and said that 30%, of revenue from oil remains in the country, while 70% goes out of the country to the exploration and extraction companies. “However,” he said, “we are adequately administering these resources.” 

He also referred to the country’s incipient economic recession. “The current economic recession, due to the fluctuation of the price of oil, along with the great development of infrastructure, advises a change of mentality, in order not to live with the income from oil, but rather to exploit our creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, and avoid the complacency of the so-called ‘Dutch disease.’” 

He warned, “We must cultivate a mentality of economic solvency of the citizens, in order to create a society capable of defending any economic recession.”

The national dialogue brought together the government of Equatorial Guinea, non-governmental organizations, ambassadors, other international and national observers, legalized political parties in the country: Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), Popular Union (UP), Democratic Liberal Convention (CLD), Social Democrat Party (PSD), Progressive Democratic Alliance (ADP), National Democratic Union (UDN), Democratic and Popular Social Convergence (CSDP), Party of the Democratic Social Coalition (PCSD), Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), Popular Action of Equatorial Guinea (APGE), National Democratic Union (UDN), Socialist Party of Equatorial Guinea (PSGE), Liberal Party (PL), National Liberation Front of Equatorial Guinea (FRENALIGE), Opposition Coalition for the Restoration of a Democratic State (CORED); the diaspora: the Independent Candidature (CI), the Self-Determination Movement of the Island of Bioko (MAIB), Republican Democrat Force (FDR) and the Center Right Union (UCD); other independent political parties in the interior of the country such as Center Right Union (UCD), Republican Democrat Force (FDR), Independent Candidature (CI) and others joined the national dialogue as well.

Equatorial Guinea to Join Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative


The government of Equatorial Guinea will join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as part of its efforts to move the country forward in full compliance with international standards.

The EITI is a global coalition of governments, companies and civil society working together to improve openness and accountable management of revenues from natural resources.

President Obiang and his government have been working to qualify as a candidate for compliance with the rules of the EITI, while unilaterally establishing policies to exceed EITI auditing standards and do more than is necessary to ensure that transparency and accountability are as mandatory for the Government as they are for civil society.

Equatorial Guinea has made significant progress in the areas of transparency, accountability, social services, health and education and is committed to continue these reforms.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Equatorial Guinea Participates in World Tourism Market


Equatorial Guinea has been participating in the World Tourism Market (WTM) held in London, England, which is being held from November 3 to 6.

The WTM is the leading global event for the travel industry, it is a vibrant must attend business-to-business event presenting a diverse range of destinations and industry sectors to UK and International travel professionals.

This marks the first time Equatorial Guinea has participated in this event. It has previously participated in forums and expositions in Yeosu, Seville, Zaragoza and Shanghai to name a few.

Yesterday, the WTM held the Summit of Ministers of the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations (UNWTO).

Equatorial Guinea joined over 50,000 professionals in the tourism industry this week in London. The WTM provides the country with an opportunity to learn from the latest developments and advances in the tourism industry.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Equatorial Guinea's Investments In Infrastructure In Line With Imf Recommendations


The government of Equatorial Guinea has heavily invested the country’s oil revenues in its infrastructure to enhance its growth potential.

The state-of-the art Sipopo Conference Center is an example of the return on investment Equatorial Guinea has received from investing its revenues in the infrastructure sector. The West African nation has extensive experience in hosting international conferences, forums and other events. The country is quickly becoming one of the top meeting venues on the African continent.

The country’s efforts have been encouraged by the IMF, which released a report on the Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting the need for the region to develop its infrastructure sector to enhance its growth potential and promote economic diversification and structural transformation.

The report also recommended that nations invest in improving the quality of education and training and adopt legal and regulatory reforms to support the creation of jobs in the private sector. Equatorial Guinea has invested heavily in education and currently boasts the highest literacy rates among adults and youth in Africa, according to UNESCO.

Equatorial Guinea has partnered with universities in Africa, Latin America, Europe, Asia to bring professors to the country and send Equatoguinean professors abroad for training and higher education. It has research and exchange agreements with Drexel University and Texas Tech University in the United States.

It has heavily invested in professional training at all levels. Foreign companies doing business in the country have been encouraged to spend resources in training local employees, which has resulted in an increased employment rate. The government has made education a top priority and it’s reflected in the Horizon 2020 development plan.

The IMf report concluded with concerns that the Ebola epidemic represents a barrier to growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. The government of Equatorial Guinea has spent more than US$13 million (600 million CFAs) in recent months to fight the Ebola virus. It has taken a number of preventive measures after it formed a national commission to lead anti-Ebola efforts. Equatorial Guinea took a proactive approach to the Ebola threat as it continues to affect neighboring regions.

Equatorial Guinea has purchased special ambulances, ambulatory hospitals (tents) and thermographic cameras for airports (which will be used to detect whether an arrival has had a fever in the prior 72 hours), trained health personnel assigned to these health units, and purchased drugs for palliative treatment and laser thermometers for all the borders, among other initiatives.

President Obiang will meet soon with Central Africa Heads of State to discuss security issues and the collective efforts of the region to fight the Ebola virus.

Friday, October 24, 2014

President Obiang Grants Amnesty to All Citizens Convicted Of Political Crimes


Amnesty Aims to Encourage All Political Parties to Participate in National Dialogue

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea—October 24, 2014— Equatorial Guinea’s President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has signed an amnesty decree granting pardon to all citizens who had been convicted of political crimes, whether or not they have served or are serving sentences, and to those who have begun any disciplinary action that constitutes an obstacle to the exercise of political activities.

President Obiang signed the General Amnesty Decree within the framework of the National Political Dialogue, a national roundtable dialogue aimed at legalizing all political parties to which all legalized political parties and national political forces outside the country have been invited. “Through this General Amnesty Decree, the Government guarantees the Diaspora’s participation in the national dialogue,” said Obiang.

“The General Amnesty provides general forgiveness, turning a new leaf and forgetting the past,” he said. The government has taken this step to show everyone its political will is firm. The National Dialogue will allow all the national political parties to carry out their programs.”

He said in his signing statement, “…in order to offer greater liberty, security and guarantees in the next process of national dialogue proposed by the Government, it is necessary to grant Total Amnesty to those who through a final sentence were made prisoners or were prevented from exercising their political rights in the country.”

To further encourage the political exiles residing in Spain to attend the National Dialogue, the government announced that it would cover their airfare through Equatorial Guinea’s national airline, Ceiba Intercontinental, on its Madrid-Malabo flights.  The National Dialogue will take place next month in Equatorial Guinea.

Full General Amnesty Decree can be found here http://guineaecuatorialpress.com/noticia.php?id=5815&lang=en

DECREE NUMBER 127 of 2014, dated October 21, grants General Amnesty in Equatorial Guinea to all persons convicted for political offenses and to those who are in a judicial process for the same offenses:

Constituting the Fundamental Objective of My Government, since the historical changes in the country in 1979, the gradual transformation of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea into a State ruled by Law, where individual and collective freedoms find their positive response to the practical application of the International Covenant of Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Government, having signed and ratified the aforementioned international instruments and others of a similar nature that promote and protect human rights of Citizens in the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.
Whereas the provisions of the Basic Law of Equatorial Guinea, regarding the rights of the citizens, stated in Article 13, should be enjoyed without limitations except those established by law.

Whereas the rights and freedoms recognized by the Basic Law of Equatorial Guinea and the cited international instruments are essential to the full development of citizens at all levels of the socio-political life of the country.

Whereas Amnesty, in its broadest sense, involves the concept of a full pardon and forgetting the responsibilities and offenses of the individuals or those persons who receive its benefits, has constituted a legal practice used by the Government to promote national reconciliation, unity, solidarity and social cohesion, in order to reach a solid consensus on national interests; all political actors in Equatorial Guinea should lay down their personal ambitions to ensure the interest of the Nation, which is to continue to preserve the Peace, Political and Social Stability of the Nation.

Whereas, furthermore, the successful celebration of the Forty-Sixth Anniversary of National Independence in the city of Ebebiyin, on October 12 of this year, an event in which the People externalized their overflowing joy and happiness for the atmosphere of peace, stability, development and prosperity. This environment of material and moral satisfaction of the People should extend to all Equatorial Guinean families and households, to allow broad participation of all the political actors in the national dialogue scheduled for next November, between the Government and the Political Parties of the country, within the framework of the binding National Covenant, without limitations imposed by a penalty or coercive judgment or other legal impediment.

As it is My will to preserve these rights for a physical and moral integration of the citizens, and in order to offer greater liberty, security and guarantees in the next process of national dialogue proposed by the Government, it is necessary to grant Total Amnesty to those who through a final sentence were made prisoners or were prevented from exercising their political rights in the country.

By virtue and in exercise of the powers conferred on me by the Basic Law in its Article 41 (point I);

I HEREBY DECREE
Article One - Total Amnesty is granted to all citizens convicted by the courts of Equatorial Guinea for political crimes in the exercise of their activities, whether or not they are fulfilling their corresponding sentences, and to those who have entered into an initiation of disciplinary action that constitutes an obstacle to the exercise of political activities.

Article Two - The Ministries of Justice, Religious Affairs and Penitentiary Institutions, of National Defense, of National Security, and of Internal Affairs and Local Corporations, will each be given authority in its field of competence, to ensure the strict compliance with this Decree.

Final provision
This Decree shall enter into force on the date of its signing and publication by the National News Media.
I hereby issue this Decree, in the city of Malabo on October 21, 2014.

FOR A BETTER GUINEA
Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
President of the Republic

Friday, October 10, 2014

Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Settles Case With Justice Department


Proceeds from sale of some property will benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea

The Second Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, announced last night that he had reached a settlement with the Justice Department that will end the U.S. government’s efforts to seize his property in the United States and pursue seizure of property he holds outside the United States.

Under the agreement, Mr. Nguema will liquidate his residence in Malibu, California, sell one automobile and two statues, a make a one-time payment of one million dollars. The funds realized will be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea through a mechanism to be agreed by both parties.

Mr. Nguema will forfeit to the U.S. government funds in the amount of $10.3 million that are currently in an escrow account. The Department of Justice will not pursue seizure of a private aircraft owned by Mr. Nguema, which is currently outside the country.

The U.S. government’s case had been rejected for lack of probable cause by federal courts, but Mr. Nguema said he decided to settle in the interests of his country.

“I agreed to settle this case despite the fact that the U.S. federal courts had consistently found that the Department of Justice lacked probable cause to seize my property, which was acquired with funds earned in accordance with the laws of my country and through business dealings inside and outside Equatorial Guinea,” Mr. Nguema said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“However, the case had become a significant distraction from my official responsibilities and an unnecessary irritant in the relationship between Equatorial Guinea and the United States.”
He also said that the ability to use funds raised from the sale of the properties for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea was a major factor in his acceptance of the agreement.

“My government has worked tirelessly to create opportunity and improve living standards in Equatorial Guinea. We were once the poorest country in Africa, but we have used our oil resources to produce the highest literacy rate and the highest per-capita government expenditure on health care on the continent, as well as infrastructure that is opening economic opportunities and encouraging initiative and growth,” he said. “I am proud to add the funds from this settlement to the charitable work I have sponsored for many years in Equatorial Guinea.”

Mr. Nguema praised the American justice system, saying that he had “received fair and equitable treatment at every stage of these proceedings by the American justice system. I have found the American courts to be scrupulously fair to me, a citizen of another country who had been presumed guilty of corruption in the press and by some in the United States Congress,” he said.

The text of Mr. Nguema’s statement follows:

Statement by Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, Vice President of Equatorial Guinea
October 9, 2014

This week, I reached an agreement with the United States Department of Justice that ends the Justice Department’s efforts to seize certain of my properties located inside and outside the United States. Under the agreement, I have agreed to sell some assets in the United States, including a residence in Malibu, California, and pay a cash settlement. In return, the United States government has dropped its claims against some of my property. Funds generated through this agreement will be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea.

I am pleased to be able to end this long and costly ordeal. I agreed to settle this case despite the fact that the U.S. federal courts had consistently found that the Department of Justice lacked probable cause to seize my property, which was acquired with funds earned in accordance with the laws of my country and through business dealings inside and outside Equatorial Guinea. However, the case had become a significant distraction from my official responsibilities and an unnecessary irritant in the relationship between Equatorial Guinea and the United States.

Like most people in my country and my government, I admire the United States. We consider the United States to be an important partner in our economic and social development and a model for the development of our democracy. For the good of my country, it was important to resolve this matter and put the relationship back on firm footing.

The most important factor that encouraged me to agree to this settlement was the provision requiring the monies from the forfeiture of my property to be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea. To that end, this agreement establishes a mechanism to determine the projects to be funded from these assets and to ensure that the funds will be used as intended.

My government has worked tirelessly to create opportunity and improve living standards in Equatorial Guinea. We were once the poorest country in Africa, but we have used our oil resources to produce the highest literacy rate and the highest per-capita government expenditure on health care on the continent, as well as infrastructure that is opening economic opportunities and encouraging initiative and growth. I am proud to add the funds from this settlement to the charitable work I have sponsored for many years in Equatorial Guinea.

I wish to recognize that, despite my fundamental disagreement with the Justice Department’s legal reasoning for this case, I have received fair and equitable treatment at every stage of these proceedings by the American justice system. I have found the American courts to be scrupulously fair to me, a citizen of another country who had been presumed guilty of corruption in the press and by some in the United States Congress. This commitment to equal justice under the law is one of the qualities for which American democracy is rightly admired, and I am grateful to have experienced it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Equatorial Guinea Wins San Diego Festival Awards

West African Nation assists Foreign Film Producers in finding talent and locations

The first international feature film shot in Equatorial Guinea,Where the Road Runs Out, has won two awards at the San Diego 2014 Film Festival. A local Equatorial Guinea film crew gained important experience by participating in the film.

According to a recent article by IndieWireWhere The Road Runs Out also won Best Feature and was the winner of the San Diego Union Tribune UT Award in a lineup that included You're Not You (Josh Duhamel, Emmy Rossum and Hilary Swank), The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley), and Wild (Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern). The feature film shot in Equatorial Guinea has also been selected for the 2014 Heartland Film Festival, which will take place this month. 

Feature scenes of Where the Road Runs Out were filmed in Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and The Netherlands. The film was produced by Dutch production company Firenze Film in conjunction with the Motion Picture Association of Equatorial Guinea (ACIGE). A young Equatorial Guinean film crew participated in the production.

Where the Road Runs Out was directed by South African film maker Rudolf Buitendach and headlined by Ivorian actor Isaach De Bankolé (Casino Royale), winner of a Cesar Award, along with Juliet Landau, daughter of Martin Landau, and Stelio Savante, who starred opposite Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind in 2001. The screenplay was written by David Hughes (A Night at the Museum with McFly).

Equatorial Guinea welcomes film production companies. The country's unspoiled coasts and interior, abundant wildlife, and picturesque cities offer valuable locations, and its modern infrastructure allows for easy transportation of people and equipment. The Motion Picture Association of Equatorial Guinea supports foreign film producers in finding talent and locations and in navigating government requirements.