Sunday 25 February 2018

Equatorial Guinea holding 135 activists, says lawyer

Equatorial Guinea holding 135 activists, says lawyer
(AFP (eng) 01/24/18)

Authorities in Equatorial Guinea are detaining 135 members of the opposition at a jail in the south of the country, their lawyer said Wednesday.

"One hundred and thirty-five opposition activists, who are members of the Citizens for Innovation (CI) party, are concerned," the attorney, Fabian Nsue Nguema, told AFP.

"They are in prison in Evinayong. The charges against them will be made public at their trial."

The detentions came on the heels of general elections on November 12, in which the ruling party gained 99 out of the 100 seats in the legislature.

The arrests are linked to scuffles between party members and police on November 5 at a banned rally in Aconibe, the birthplace of CI leader Gabriel Nse Obiang Obono, concurring sources said.

Three police were hurt and their weapons -- three AK-47 assault rifles and a pistol -- were seized, the sources said.

The CI, for its part, says more than 200 members have been held without explanation, mainly in the capital Malabo and economic hub of Bata.

It also says that one of its activists, 41-year-old Santiago Ebee Ela, died after being tortured.

President Teodoro Obiang, in an interview with Radio France Internationale (RFI) and the French TV channel France 24 on January 17, said "about 20" activists had been detained and that Ebee Ela's death "had no link to mistreatment, he was a sick man".

These developments also coincide with the aftermath of a reported coup attempt in late December.

On Tuesday, Obiang dismissed the country's ambassador to Chad, Enrique Nsue Anguesomo, due to "irregularities committed in the exercise of his functions".

Anguesomo was arrested in Ebibeyin on December 30 while on holiday, according to one of his relatives.

He is being held at Balack Beach Central Prison in Malabo, the capital, according to security sources.

Obiang has faced a string of coup attempts during nearly four decades in office. The 75-year-old is Africa's longest-serving leader, ruling the country with iron fist since 1979.

Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, is one of sub-Saharan Africa's biggest oil producers, but a large proportion of its 1.2 million population live in poverty.

Critics accuse Obiang of brutal repression, electoral fraud and corruption.

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