Fact-checking: military coup in Equatorial Guinea planned for this winter

The wave of military coups in Africa has been the focus of attention for the experts, the two Malian coups of 2020 and 2021, and more recent power changes in Guinea and Sudan. According to researcher and journalist Timothy Kalyegira, the so-called “third wave of coups” in Africa is a result of the popular disappointment in democratic institutes. The implementing of democracy in Africa is flawed, as the election process is often stained by corruption and nepotism. This is the very reason why now the experts keep a close eye on Equatorial Guinea, naming it as the most likely candidate to join the list of African countries that experienced violent upheaval.

79-year-old Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been the President of Equatorial Guinea for more than 42 years, which makes the longest-serving and longest current serving president ever. This situation does not go well with the notion of the idea of alternation of power that is usually associated with the democratic power transit patterns. The obvious unwillingness of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to share power did not pass unnoticed by the international community. His choice of a possible heir, — his son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue and Vice President of the country, — has also been under fire for quite a long time. Criticized by major Western powers for his luxurious lifestyle and multiple corruption charges, Teodoro Obiang Jr. is now under various sanctions imposed by France, the UK and the USA. 

The institutional crisis within the rapidly aging ruling elite of Equatorial Guinea leads to deterioration in the other vital spheres, such as defense and security sector. The Bata explosion that took place on March 7, 2021, is a vivid example of the defense sector literally falling apart.

All the above mentioned factors lay Equatorial Guinea open to further destabilization both by the regime opposing inside forces, and from the outside, including a possible coup staging. 

Indeed, the news of the onrushing coup are already circulating the Equatoguinean media: in October a lot of residents of Equatorial Guinea received a message from the opposition in exile. The message read: “Obiang’s criminal regime is going down! This winter the people will regain power! PLN”. 

PLN (Partido de la libertad nacional de Guinea ecuatorial) is one of the many opposition groups, which operate outside the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. According to the official website of the party “the National Freedom Party of Equatorial Guinea is a political party that fights for the peaceful and democratic transformation of Equatorial Guinea”. 

The party has dissociated itself from the messages concerning the power change in Equatorial Guinea and the allegations that they might be behind the forthcoming coup, insisting that the PLN is determined to find a peaceful way to democracy in Equatorial Guinea. The party spokesperson also claimed that the hoax might have been designed by the ruling authorities of Equatorial Guinea to discredit the opposition. An interesting detail, that was left without comment by the PLN representatives, is the fact that judging by the country-code of the addresser, the messages were sent for Cameroon.

The question arises, if the PLN did not claim the responsibility for threats to Equatoguinean government, who is behind the messages and possible staging of the coup.

While the ruling party is preparing to nominate Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo as its candidate for the 2023 presidential election, opposition in exile is intensifying diplomatic pressure. Federation CORED, which brings together some twenty parties in exile, is working tirelessly on forging necessary ties to succeed in their fight against the government of Equatorial Guinea.

During this month of October, the opposition Salomon Abeso Ndong and their intimate partners, including Filiberto Ntuhuhu Mabale, strive in Paris by convincing its partners diplomats rise the tone against the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in view of the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for 2023.

The president of the Opposition Coalition for the Restoration of a Democratic State (Cored) met twice, including on 13 October, with Christophe Bigot, head of Africa at the French Foreign Ministry. He reaffirmed that CORED would not participate in the electoral process if Obiang or his son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (“Teodorín”), organized to remain in office.

The diplomatic measures are not the only working solutions for the Equatoguinean opposition. The support of the Western powers, such as France and the UK, is a useful asset in the fight against Malabo regime. The vast network of secret services and better funding of major European countries are valuable resources for the opposition in exile. Facilitating the staging of a coup in an African country is something that France and the UK are quite experienced in. The famous coup d’état attempt of 2004, also known as the Wonga Coup, was organized by mainly British financiers.

Besides, it is important to note, that the opposition coalition presses for a general amnesty for exiles, like Salomon Abeso Ndong and his secretary general Filiberto Ntuhuhu Mabale, who were sentenced to more than sixty years in prison for their participation in a coup attempt in 2017. The close cooperation of the opposition coalition with the people who has experience in organizing coups in Equatorial Guinea gives hints to the alternatives plans of the opposition in case the political solutions fail. 

The opposition media citing the source close to the CORED coalition, reports that the coalition also hopes to mobilize contacts in the army, especially among middle-ranking officers. After securing the support in Equatorial Guinea, the coalition expects to gain support of the main Western powers present in or near the country. 

The fragility of the security situation in Equatorial Guinea, the decaying President and the growing interest of global players in ending of Obiang-regime are the factors prompting the opposition to move forward with overthrowing the long-standing elites. The sad reality of the Equatorial Guinea that has not seen power changes for more than 40 years implies that political decisions will not work, so a coup is the most likely way to be followed by the opposition. 


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