Teodoro Obiang, 74, of Equatorial Guinea, who holds the scandalous record of “the world’s longest-serving president,” made his son Teodoro “Teodorin” Obiang Mangue (pictured below) his new vice president Wednesday. Until now, the younger Obiang held the office of “second vice president” of Equatorial Guinea.
President Obiang has led Equatorial Guinea since 1979, after he seized power through a bloody coup. At the time, he toppled the government of his own uncle Francisco Macias who he later sentenced to death. President Obiang has now ruled Equatorial Guinea for 37 straight years; he was 37 years old when he seized power.
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Mangue, who was indicted in France on allegations of money laundering, corruption, and the embezzlement of state funds, became vice president through a presidential decree announced on state television. Part of the decree read, “In accordance with the Basic Law of Equatorial Guinea, I appoint his Excellency Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue vice president of the Republic.”
A Marred Legacy
President Obiang’s time in power has been characterized by the mismanagement of state funds, widespread poverty, and the oppression of the opposition through the use of torture, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and unfair trials.
Consequently, Transparency International ranks Equatorial Guinea as one of the 12 most corrupt countries in the world.
In addition, legislative elections have repeatedly been marred with irregularities, and human rights groups put the number of political prisoners at more than 100.
President Obiang has won every election he has contested since 1982, often as the only candidate, and even after allowing multiparty elections in 1992, he continued to be re-elected with 98 percent of votes cast in elections, which have been condemned by the international community for their lack of transparency.
Equatorial Guinea has vast oil deposits, and President Obiang and his small circle of cronies have been able to sustain a life of luxury, engage in international image laundering campaigns, and largely insulate themselves from the effects of their profligacy — while the rest of the country’s nearly 1 million people live in penury.
The Apple Doesn’t Drop Far From the Tree
In 2014, U.S. authorities confiscated more than $30 million in assets belonging to Obiang junior who lived a playboy lifestyle in Malibu, Calif. The assets included a Ferrari, a mansion, and an impressive collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia. He is also reputed to own a $38.5 million Gulfstream jet.
Without a doubt, the younger Obiang, who is now 47 years old, is clearly being groomed as a successor to his father, continuing a trend that sadly seems to be gaining a solid foothold around other parts of Africa.
Ali Bongo (pictured), the current president of Gabon, which shares part of its border with Equatorial Guinea, became president in 2009, when he succeeded his father Omar Bongo. What’s worse, Ali Bongo’s eldest daughter, Malika Bongo Ondimba Dossou, has also now expressed her desire to succeed her father in due course.
Beyond the oil rich corridor on the gulf of Guinea, other instances of dynastic government masquerading as democracies abound on the continent. In 2001, Joseph Kabila (pictured) automatically became the president of DR Congo after the assassination of his father.
Also in 2005, Faure Gnassingbe (pictured) assumed office as the president of Togo in the most outrageous of circumstances, after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, and only this month, President Yoweri Musuveni of Uganda made his wife, Janet, the country’s new minister of Education and Sports.
Not too long ago Presidents Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya had designs of grooming their sons to succeed them in office. Those two attempts at distorting the republic and retaining power within the family ended quite tragically for them, with unpleasant consequences for the rest of their countrymen.
Sadly, though, some of Africa’s leaders never learn anything from history.