Malabo – The president of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema on Tuesday said he will leave power when his people are tired of him, a day before the country marks the start of his 32nd year in power.
“The day you are tired of me, I will retire,” Obiang said in comments broadcast on state television on the eve of celebrations devoted to the anniversary of his coup.
He took power in 1979, usurping his notoriously ruthless and unhinged uncle Francisco Macias Nguema who was executed by firing squad.
“Here, we are developing a democracy in our way. Here, no one has to come to give us a lesson in democracy. Democracy as we understand it is not a product for importation,” he said.
Speaking in Micomiseng, 100km north of Bata on the country’s mainland, Obiang said he would reject any attempts by foreigners to influence ongoing constitutional reforms.
In March, Obiang launched a constitutional review process that aims to impose presidential term limits, create a new vice presidential post and establish government bodies charged with social and economic development.
The reforms are to be voted on in a referendum set for the end of this year, but the country’s feeble opposition has already said they will boycott the process, dismissing it as a sham.
Equatorial Guinea, which currently holds the African Union’s rotating presidency, occupied the rare spotlight last week when it hosted an African Union heads of state summit.
In the mid-1990s oil was discovered in the little-known nation of 700 000 people and today it is the continent’s third sub-Saharan oil producer behind Nigeria and Angola, and is one of Africa’s wealthiest nations.
Despite its riches, the population still ranks a lowly 117 out of 169 on the United Nation’s Human Development Index that measures things like schooling and life expectancy.
Rights groups have long complained that nearly all of the country’s wealth is shared by Obiang, his family and top allies.