Page last updated at 20:43 GMT, Sunday, 29 November 2009

Opposition 'will not accept' Equatorial Guinea election

President Obiang Nguema
President Obiang won 97% of votes in the last election

Equatorial Guinea's main opposition candidate has said he will not accept the result of Sunday's election because polls were not free and fair.

Placido Mico Abogo claims government agents voted in place of the public and some polling stations closed early.

He is standing against President Teodor Obiang Nguema, who has been in power for 30 years.

Voting ended with reports of a low turn out. President Obiang Nguema said the day had gone well.

The BBC's correspondent in the region, Caspar Leighton, says the leader of the opposition is not alone in judging the election to be flawed.

The electoral roll will not be published and the country's electoral commission is run by President Obiang Nguema's interior minister.

Media domination

Human rights groups say the vote was unlikely to have been free and fair and President Obiang Nguema is likely to be re-elected.

Government funds have been given to other candidates, but the governing party dominates state media.

President Obiang Nguema won the last election with 97% of the vote and he told supporters he expects to do better this time.

There are some election monitors from the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States, but they have to follow a government programme.

Many foreign journalists have been refused visas to cover the election.

Equatorial Guinea's vast earnings from oil and gas should give its population of 600,000 people a theoretical income of $37,000 a year each.

But most Equatorial Guineans live in poverty after 15 years of plentiful oil production.

'Abusive and corrupt'

The government of President Obiang Nguema has hired American lobbying companies to burnish the country's unsavoury reputation and says it will guarantee an open electoral process.

Human Rights Watch describes Equatorial Guinea's government as one of the most abusive and corrupt in the world.

But international investors remain firmly attached to the oil and gas wealth of this tiny African nation.

Normally a secretive state, Equatorial Guinea made headlines in October with the pardoning of a group South African and British mercenaries headed by Simon Mann who had been jailed for attempting a coup.

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Country profile: Equatorial Guinea
14 Nov 11 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Equatorial Guinea
14 Nov 11 |  Country profiles

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