E. Guinea goes to polls to­mor­row

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS - MAL­ABO, Fri­day

Equa­to­rial Guinea will vote in par­lia­men­tary elec­tions on Sun­day where the op­po­si­tion, fac­ing many hur­dles but buoyed by ral­lies, is hop­ing for a break­through at the ex­pense of the rul­ing party.

The elec­tion is ex­pected to be dom­i­nated by the party of Pres­i­dent Teodoro Obiang Nguema who has ruled the tiny oil-rich na­tion for 37 years.

His Demo­cratic Party of Equa­to­rial Guinea (PDGE) con­trols 99 per cent of seats in par­lia­ment, over which it has held sway since sin­gle-party rule was scrapped in 1991.

But op­po­si­tion par­ties hope to make gains, even if they say they have no ac­cess to state me­dia, which reg­u­larly broad­casts cam­paign ads by PDGE and whose broad­casts only cover meet­ings by the pres­i­dent’s party.

In­ter­net is cen­sored in the coun­try, op­po­si­tion web­sites have been blocked since 2013, and Face­book has been blocked since the of­fi­cial start of cam­paigns on Oc­to­ber 27.

One party, Cit­i­zens for In­no­va­tion (CI), has gen­er­ated a buzz in cap­i­tal Mal­abo.

It has never taken part in elec­tions but its ral­lies typ­i­cally draw thou­sands.

“We will con­test 97 per cent of seats so if the elec­tions are free, and with the pop­u­lar­ity en­joyed by our party, we hope to win,” said CI leader Gabriel Nse Obiang, a for­mer sol­dier who has re­turned to the coun­try af­ter 13 years’ ex­ile in Spain.

He was barred from con­test­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in 2016 as he had not lived in the coun­try for five con­sec­u­tive years — and was ex­cluded from Sun­day’s bal­lot too af­ter be­ing sen­tenced to six months’ jail for “se­ri­ous in­sults” against the rul­ing party.

CI said some of its can­di­dates were ar­rested and sup­port­ers in­jured in clashes with po­lice on Sun­day. (AFP)

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