The world’s longest ruling president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, last Wednesday, named his son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (nicknamed Teodorin) Vice President. This means that 74-year-old Obiang who has ruled this African country for 36 years plans for the son to succeed him.
The son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang, takes charge of the country’s defence and security. Teodorin is one of 42 officially acknowledged children of Equatorial Guinea’s maximum ruler but obviously the one after the father’s heart.
In 2011, President Obiang who runs the oil-rich nation like a private estate, organized a constitutional referendum which limited the tenure of a president to two terms of seven years each. By the new constitution, age limit was removed from the qualifications required to contest for the presidency. The constitution also created the position of Vice President who is required by law to automatically succeed the President if he dies in office.
On April 24, this year, presidential elections held in Equatorial Guinea. The elections were initially scheduled for November but were brought forward by seven whole months. Candidates who ran against the incumbent were mostly unknown faces whose parties had no parliamentary representation.
The only man most Equatoguineans saw as a real challenge to Obiang Mbasogo, Gabriel Nse, was disqualified from running on grounds that he did not meet the residency requirements. Another force that could have challenged the President was the Democratic Opposition Front which is a coalition of opposition parties. The coalition boycotted the election altogether, questioning its constitutionality. They feared that the elections would be rigged and that Obiang would win.
When the results of the polls were announced, Obiang won 92.70% of the votes. His closest “rival”, Avelino Mocache Mehenga of the Centre-Right Union scored 1.57%.
It follows that President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s first term under the new constitution started only a few months ago. He still can legally rule Equatorial Guinea for another 14 years. If that happens, he will have ruled the country for 51 years. Fourteen years from now, he will be 88 and many Equatoguineans believe the man will not voluntarily leave office. Indeed, in recent press interviews, he has refused to categorically state that he will leave after his tenure. Now, making Teodorin Vice President means the man wants his own family to continue ruling Equatorial Guinea if anything happens to him.
Obiang became the ruler of the country after he overthrew and later executed his blood uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema who was the first President of independent Equatorial Guinea. Francisco Nguema ruled from October 12, 1968 to August 1979. He was a brutal dictator who, on record, wasted the lives of thousands of Equatoguineans.
Equatorial Guinea is an oil-rich nation. Her GDP per head is the highest in Africa but more than 70% of the population live below the world poverty line. The country’s educational and health sectors are known to be about the worst in the world in terms of facilities and manpower.
However, while most citizens live on less than two dollars a day, the President once bought a Boeing 737 aircraft with gold-plated toilet for $55 million. Teodorin, his son, was once reported to be worth $300 million in assets which included 32 sports cars, one of the most expensive mansions in Malibu, California and about $2 million worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia.
In 2014, the United States Department of Justice forced Teodorin to sell off some of his assets to settle a money-laundering case. Assets sold included six life-size Michael Jackson statues, his posh Los Angeles home and a Ferrari.
On September 29, 2011, the French seized 11 supercars belonging to Teodorin . The cars which were seized from his residence at 42 Avenue Foch, near the Arch de Triomphe in Paris included two Bugatti Veyrons, a Maserati MC12, a Porsche Carrera GT, a Ferrari Enzo and a Ferrari 599 GTO.
The cars were seized in the course of investigations into allegations that Obiang Mbasogo’s family was using state funds to buy private property in France. In November 2010, the Supreme Court of France had accepted that an investigating judge be appointed to look into those allegations.
Today, the President’s favourite son and now, Vice President by a decree signed by his father, is wanted in France to answer to allegations of corruption and embezzlement of public funds.