By John Ikani
Vote-counting is under way in Equatorial Guinea in an election where the world’s longest-serving president is seeking a new term to extend his 43 years in office.
Voters in Central West African country went to the polls on Sunday morning to elect their next president and representatives in both parliamentary chambers.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 80, candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea, is seeking a sixth term in office. He is challenged by Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu of the Social Democratic Coalition Party and Andres Esono Ondo of the Convergence for Social Democracy.
President Obiang, who has survived several coup attempts, seized power of the oil-rich West African nation in 1979 after a military takeover.
Upon gaining office from his predecessor and uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, he made some reforms, but retained Nguema’s absolute control over the nation.
President Obiang has never received less than 90% of the vote in his 43-year tenure.
The incumbent president expressed optimism about the election’s outcome after voting alongside his wife, Constancia Mangue de Obiang.
The final results of the presidential, legislative and municipal elections that took place on Sunday are expected to be announced in the coming days.
Despite its oil and gas riches, Equatorial Guinea has a dramatic gap between its privileged ruling class and much of the population, which lives mainly on subsistence farming.
The Obiang family has long been accused of living in opulence and using money from state coffers to fund their lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea’s main opposition party says irregularities took place in the country’s general elections on Sunday in which the world’s longest-ruling leader, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, sought to extend his 43-year rule.
The Convergence for Social Democracy said it would not recognise the results of “the fraudulent elections” and that any person declared the president-elect would be considered “illegitimate” by the party.
In a statement on Sunday, the party said that the vote was “taking place amid flagrant and widespread irregularities” across the country except in the capital, Malabo.
The electoral authorities and the ruling party have not commented on the allegations.