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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 16:59 GMT
'Landslide' in Equatorial Guinea
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Mr Obiang's party has been accused of intimidation
The authorities in Equatorial Guinea say President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has been re-elected with almost 100% of the vote in Sunday's presidential election, according to initial results.

But an observer monitoring the election for a US-based NGO, Ahmed Rajab, has said that Mr Obiang's entourage is embarrassed by what has already been described as a "Saddam scenario".

Interior Minister Clemente Engonga described as "unlawful" the last-minute decision by the four opposition candidates to withdraw from the poll.

The four said the poll was marred by irregularities.

Opponents of Mr Obiang, who is seeking a third seven-year term, say he has not distributed the country's oil revenue fairly to the people.

'Fear'

Mr Engonga was quoted as saying by the Spanish news agency EFE that the decision by Mr Obiang's challengers to withdraw was "proof of the bad faith and diabolical spirit" of the four candidates.

Mr Rajab told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that if the election is seen to have been shambolic, it will have done Mr Obiang more harm than good.

But he said he had not witnessed any malpractice.

"We don't think we saw any irregularities as such," he said.

"But what happens before an election is much more important, and we don't know what happened before the election."

"There could have been an element of fear which prompted people to vote for Obiang."

'Fraudulent'

Mr Obiang's main challenger, Celesto Bonifacio Bacale, was the first to withdraw from the race in the middle of the election, saying voting had not been secret.

"Voting is totally fraudulent at every level. In 90% of the polling stations, the vote is being carried out in public, and people are being obliged to take only one voting slip, the one for Obiang," he was quoted as saying.

"There are polling stations that don't exist and ones that weren't planned that have popped up," he said.

Slum area of Equatorial Guinea
Some people have not benefited from the oil bonanza

"There are polling stations presided over by soldiers and the police, and electoral officials who open the envelopes of voters who cast their ballots in secret."

Mr Bacale, the candidate of the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS) said that several heads of polling stations who had insisted on free and fair elections had been removed by government officials, and warned that the move could incite violence.

"The CPDS will not recognise the results of this election, nor the government which follows them," he said.

'Anti-democratic'

The three other challengers for the presidency declared the election "invalid" and called for fresh elections "in the best conditions of freedom, legality and transparency".

Mr Obiang's party denied that there had been any irregularities.

"Many people are lining up to vote in a normal and peaceful atmosphere," the secretary general of the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) said.

Interior Minister Clemente Engonga Nguema condemned the late withdrawal of the four candidates, saying it was "irresponsible and anti-democratic".

See also:

13 Nov 02 | Business
04 Apr 02 | Business
29 Jun 02 | Country profiles
23 Nov 02 | Africa
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