Republic Of Equatorial Guinea Paper

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Final paper for African Polics class at Western Michigan University

Final paper for African Polics class at Western Michigan University

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  • 1. Republic of Equatorial Guinea<br />Equatorial Guinea, a small country in Western Africa, gained its independence in 1968. Previously, it was ruled by the Spanish for approximately 150 years. The country is composed of a mainland plus 5 inhabited islands off the western coast of Africa. The country is situated next to Cameroon in the north and Gabon on the south. On 17 November 1991, Equatorial Guinea became a constitutional democracy, however many elections since have been seen as inconsistent because their president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago almost completely controls the country. He has been president since 1979, when he seized power in a military takeover. <br />Equatorial Guinea is composed of 7 provinces. These provinces include Annobon, Bioko Norte, Bioko Sur, Kie-Ntiem, Centro Sur, Litoral, and Wele-Nzas. Its capital is Molabo and is located on the island of Bioko. It composes approximately 28,000 square km, of which much is located offshore on inhabited islands. The climate is tropical, being that it is hot all year round. The islands are also volcanic and the country has some inland hills. Offshore, Equatorial Guinea boosts petroleum resources including natural gas. Inland, it produces timber, gold, bauxite, diamonds, tantalum, sand, gravel and clay resources. The country is prone to flash floods and very violent wind storms among volcanic eruptions. Environmentally, Equatorial Guinea faces both deforestation and non potable tap water, making water a scarce resource. Equatorial Guinea is Africa’s 3rd largest oil producer and has made billions off oil revenue. Even though the GDP per capital is over 30,000 per person, approximately 60% of the population lives on less than 1 dollar per day.<br />In 2009, there was an estimated 633,441 people living in Equatorial Guinea with the median age being 18.9 years old. An astounding 4.1% of people actually live to be above 65 years old! About 39% of the total population resides in cities, with a 2.8% urbanization rate per annum. 36.52 births per 1000 people occurred in 2009, along with 9.49 deaths per 1000 people. At birth there is a 1.03 male to female ratio, however by the age of 65, males are at a .79 ratio to females. Equatorial Guinea has an 8.158% infant mortality rate per 1000 people. Finally, the life expectancy rate is about 61 years and about 3.4% of the population is HIV/AIDS infected (11,000). <br />In Equatorial Guinea the risk of disease is high. The diseases that are most prevalent are water borne illnesses such as bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and Typhoid fever. However, the country has a somewhat low HIV/AIDS rate of 3.4% compared to some African countries.<br />The main ethnic groups in Equatorial Guinea are the Fang 85%, Bubi 6.5%, Mdowe 3.6%, Annobon 1.6%, Bujeba 1.1% and 1.4% other. The country is predominantly Roman Catholic while there are some Peagans. The country also boosts an 87% literacy rate with most people over the age of 15 being able to read and write while most citizens receive 10 years of schooling. The GDP spending rate for education is at .6% of the GDP, comparatively low to the rest of the world.<br />
    • History
    In 1472, Fernao do Po discovered the island of Bioko and was thus later colonized in 1474 by the Portuguese. In 1778 most of what is now currently Equatorial Guinea was relinquished to Spain for territory in America which was called the Treaty of El Pardo between Queen Maria the 1st of Portugal and King Charles the 3rd of Spain. Furthermore, it was ruled executively ruled during the 17-1800’s by the viceroyalty in Buenos Aires. In the mid 1800’s, the United Kingdom also occupied the country to fight the growing emergence of the slave trade., thus being moved to Sierra Leone after an agreement in 1843 with Spain. In 1885 the country became a protectorate of Spain and in 1900 it became a colony. However there were claims to Equatorial Guinea by more than 1 European power, but was settled by the Treaty of Paris in 1900. Later between 1926 and 1959, what is now currently Equatorial Guinea was united as Spanish Guinea. <br />On 12 October 1968, Equatorial Guinea gained its independence from Spain, after nearly 150 years of Spanish rule. Also in 1968, Francisco Macias Nguema was elected as the first president of the modern day country. The Spanish rule is evident as the official language is Spanish with approximately 67% of the people speaking it, while others speak French, Fang and Bubi. Spanish roots are similarly evident as their government is partly based on Spanish civil law and local customs. President Nguema’s regime was seen as a reign of terror as he had executed nearly 1/3 of the countries then population being nearly 80,000 being executed. Both the economy collapsed and foreign interests were abandoned. The now President Obiang seized power from Nguema in 1979 in a bloody battle.<br />
    • Changes and continuities in individual rankings of selected county on the various indicators over time by advancing political and socio-economic variables
    Currently the HDI, or Human Development Index rates countries based on many factors including life expectancy, adult literacy and gross enrollment in education, and purchasing power, PPP and income. It does point out certain inequalities such as gender based inequalities and that of income inequalities. Between 2000 and 2007 the Human Development Index has rose nearly 1.33% annually from .655 to .719 today. The large gap in well being and life chances in 2007, giving it an HDI of .719, and a ranking of 118th out of 182 countries with data. In 2007, Equatorial Guinea had a life expectancy at birth of about 49.9 years, an 87% adult literacy rate, with a combined gross enrollment ratio of 62% and a GDP per capita of 30,627$ USD. Equatorial Guinea further ranks low (98) due to certain factors that we will now describe. The probability of not surviving to age 40 is an astounding 34.5%. Also indicated is the adult literacy rate which is 13%. Another factor giving the country such a low score is that the water sources are not improved for most of the country, with 57% of the country not having adequate drinking or potable water. Further indicated is the percentage of children who are underweight at age 5 and below is at 19%. Gender inequalities have also been captured by the Human Development Index. It examines the comparison of life expectancy at birth, the adult literacy rate and combined enrollment of males vs. females in school. Females life expectancy at birth is 105% that of men. However, interestingly enough, the literacy of women is only 86.2% that of men and combined enrollment in school is only 81.8% that of men. Further indicated by this study is the net migration rate which is about 14.5%, being that 5.8 thousand citizens migrate, or about 1% of the population. The place of migration is usually to other African countries.<br />The Mo Ibrahim Index further indicates Equatorial Guinea. The Ibrahim Index measures safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development which is categorized with an overall score and individual rankings per country. Equatorial Guinea places 17 on the list. Comparatively it is just underneath Egypt at 16 and above Eritrea at 18. In 2007, Safety and Rule of Law was giving a score of 47.58 because of the risk to personal safety and the failing rule of law. Such indicators measure the safety to the person. Furthermore, the time it takes to settle a contract dispute is high and property rights are somewhat limited. Transparency and corruption are also high. Sustainable economic activity is somewhat average. The currency inside banks and the ratio of budget deficit or Surplus GDP is good. So too is the ratio of external debt services to exports and imports covered by reserves. However in the private sector, we see that bureaucratically it is much harder to accomplish tasks such as access to credit, investment climate and the time it takes to start a business. The human development is given a rating of 49.79, the highest of its 4 rankings. This is due to people living with HIV/AIDS is low, incidence of TB is somewhat low and child mortality is somewhat normal. Furthermore, the ratio of teachers to pupils is very high but the primary school completion rate is just below average and the tertiary enrollment rates are extremely low.<br /> From 2006 to 2007 the Ibrahim index moved slightly from 38.58 to 39.39 gaining slightly in safety and the rule of law, but lost a point or so in participation and human rights. In 2005 it scored 37.21, in 2004 it scored 36.67, in 2003 35.51, in 2002 34.79, in 2001 35.64, and in 2000 it was given a score of 34.94. This trend shows a recent increase in the quality of living, but the fluxuating changes from 2000-2004 indicate a somewhat unstable country do to the indicators listed above. However recently, the country has continued to gain in rankings on a somewhat equal basis.<br />Transparency International’s Corruption Index further examines countries based on the perceived level of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world. It uses 13 surveys and compares each country to each other with a 90% confidence rate that the country truly lays within the range it’s given. For example, the United States is ranked 19 with a score of 6.9-8.0. Also, ranked number 1 is New Zealand with a score of 9.1-9.5. Equatorial Guinea comparatively ranks 168th with a score of 1.6-1.9 which is a relatively poor score. Out of the 180 countries listed, it is ranked on 12 from the bottom. Why is this? Because of the perceived amount of perception based on 13 independent surveys given which is a ‘survey of surveys, of experts and business persons, based both in the country and abroad’.<br />Lastly, Freedom House puts out an analytical review of 193 countries and 16 related and disputed countries. The report contains information on the population, capital, political rights, civil liberties, status and a 10 year ratings timeline. As of 2009, Equatorial Guinea was given a rating of 7 on political rights and a rating of 7 on civil liberties with its status being not free. It recently went down due to intensity in the environment of fear stemming from torture usage in prisons and denials of visas to foreign journalists covering the last election. This was indicative of local and parliamentary elections held back in 2008. The current president, Obiang dissolved the legislature at this time. Included in this was the widespread use of torture, refusal to allow foreigners in the country and not allowing media coverage. Even though there was a multi party system placed in 1992, Obiang has continued to rule with an iron fist. The corruption is evident as the ruling party won 75 of the 80 seats in the elections in 1999 (PDGE). Even though there is the widespread use of torture and a low standard of living and a high GDP per capital, President Obiang still managed to receive 99.5% of the vote to secure another 7 year term in 2002. <br />President Obiang formed 8 small parties at this point but those in power stayed under his arm being the PDGE which won 68 of 100 seats in the 2004 parliamentary elections. The parties allied with the PDGE took the remaining 30 leaving 2 seats to opposition. In 2004 a coup (which is how Obiang seized power) was unraveled and these foreigners were imprisoned. They included British, African and Spanish ‘mercenaries’. Further indicative that the country is both corrupt and not free was in March 2008, oppositional leader Saturnino Ncogo Mbomio died in police custody. This was an attempt to crack down on the opposition for the upcoming election. After this Obiang dissolved the parliament. In the last election, the oppositional party denounced the election because of voting irregularities and intimidation by Obiang and his party. Also in 2008, former Prime Minister Ricardo Mangue Obama Nfubea resigned due to allegations of corruption.<br />Equatorial Guinea is considered a very corrupt country, one of the most corrupt countries in the world. They continue to use force, manipulation, imprisonment and torture and other cruel and unusual methods to stay in power. Furthermore, those in power are the only ones who benefit from the countries billions of dollars in oil revenue while the rest of the country lives on about 1 dollar per day. There is over 2 billion in annual revenue that the government does not disclose further indicative of its very low score mentioned early on Transparency Internationals Corruption Percentage Index.<br />Lastly, the government of Equatorial Guinea monitors usage on computers, has outlawed libel and freedom of the press and forces all journalists to register with the government. Television stations are also monitored and censored. Previously stated, the government has also failed to accept visa requests from foreign journalists wishing to cover the past elections. Freedom of religion and school is supposedly free yet those not Catholic have been imprisoned and many practice their own forms of censorship in fear of the government. Human rights organizations or NGO’s are not allowed to even advocating for human rights inside the country. Also, labor unions have very strict rules and may not exist properly. Civil cases usually do not go to trial and tribunals are usually used. Horrible prison conditions exist and starvation are often times used for opposition along with killing, Torture and other forms of cruel and unusual punishment are often times also used. Obaing, being a Fang, exercise nearly total control over the country.<br />I believe after reviewing the country in its totality, that Obiang should be taken out of power by a foreign power. The country is clearly in a state where those not in the majority are unable to fight for them for fear of persecution, torture or death. I further see the need for human rights advocates to stand up because of the gross negligence of the government with the appropriation of funds. With the majority of the population living on less than 1 dollar per day, those in power are extorting billion per year from oil revenues. While most citizens of Equatorial Guinea do not even have adequate drinking water, education and a chance at life, Obiang’s gang continues to extort, kill, and torture. I believe the only rational explanation is for Spain, having once vested authority and an underlying interest in the country, to throw Obiang out of office and force safe, and real elections. The country must be forced to distribute oil revenues equally and those in power must be held accountable for actions already taken such as torture, rape, murder and high value crimes such as extortion. I believe this is the only way to make this country move forward to any democratic sense of unity.<br />In conclusion, Equatorial Guinea has had an interesting journey from becoming a Portuguese settlement to a Spanish protectorate and colony to its own independent, somewhat or so-called democratic nation. Being that the Republic of Equatorial Guinea has been around for such a short time, it may take some time before true democratic unity is seen. One thing is evident however, the potential for Equatorial Guinea to become a modernized, democratic nation. Equatorial Guinea possesses the 3rd largest oil reserve in Africa with a GDP of about 33,000 which is higher than that of the United States. If Obiang is thrown out of power and actual democratic elections are held, then there will be much hope for this oil rich and history rich country.<br />