Equatorial Guinea opposition calls for poll boycott
Equatorial Guinea's Democratic Opposition Front (FOD) Wednesday urged a boycott of next month's presidential election, saying it would be rigged.
"The FOD calls on its supporters and the population not to vote as this election is anti-constitutional," the group's Guillermo Nguema Ela told a news conference in the capital Malabo.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his government "do not respect either the constitution or the law," Ela said.
A poll initially slated for November is due to go ahead on April 24 following a presidential decree to that effect. No reason was given for the postponement.
The FOD comprises the main opposition Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), the Popular Union (UP), the Republican Democratic Force (FDR) and a movement seeking autonomy for Bioko, an island with some 300,000 inhabitants off the coast of Cameroon in the Gulf of Guinea.
CPDS secretary general Andres Essono Ondo said numerous "irregularities" surrounded a poll he said would ensure that "President Obiang wins with a big score as a result of fraud."
The CPDS, the only opposition party represented in the former Spanish colony's parliament, said it "will not recognise the president elected in the poll."
Obiang Nguema, 73, has ruled the country with an iron fist for 36 years.
But his regime has regularly come under fire from rights groups for violent suppression of opposition as well as for rampant corruption.
He was re-elected in 2009 with 95.37 of the vote.
The opposition says it abhors the lack of an independent electoral commission as well as the regime's grip on the media.
Interior Minister Clemente Engonga Nguema Onguene, who is also first deputy prime minister, was Monday named head of a government-dominated electoral commission.
Wednesday also saw independent politician Gabriel Nse Obiang Obono of the recently legalised Citizens for the Innovation of Equatorial Guinea say he would stand for the presidency.