World’s Longest-Serving President Re-Elected With 99 Percent of the Vote

No, not Xi Jinping.
Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping.
Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping. Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

In an election win that will come as little surprise, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea has been re-elected with 99 percent of the vote, extending his 43-year reign and cementing his place as the world’s longest-ruling president.

Official results from Sunday’s legislative, municipal and presidential elections showed Obiang secured over 67,000 votes for the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) party. Opposition presidential candidates Andres Enono and Monsuy Asumu Buenaventura have less than 200 votes combined. 

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“Preliminary results point to a landslide victory for #PDGE,” Vice President Teodorin Obiang Nguema, who also happens to be President Obiang’s son, tweeted on Monday. “I reaffirm that thanks to the charisma of our candidate and the work carried out for the population during these years, the people of GE will always bet on the continuity of development.”

The 80-year-old Obiang has ruled the tiny Central African country since 1979. He seized power from his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema, the country’s first post-independence president, in a coup to rid the country of a regime that had slipped into a brutal dictatorship.

Obiang has gone on to win the overwhelming majority in every election that has taken place since, while facing accusations he has stifled any serious opposition. Rights groups regularly document cases of arbitrary detention and torture. Losing opposition candidate and first-time runner Enono tweeted that military wives were mobilised to vote massively in support of the ruling party and that voters were intimidated by election officials at polling booths in the capital, Malabo.

The ruling Obiang family and the small elite that surround them are well-known to be lavish spenders, especially the president’s son Teodorin, who many expect will eventually take over from his father. Last year, Teodorin was convicted of fraud and embezzlement in a French court, while France, the US and Switzerland have all confiscated millions of dollars worth of his property. Teodorin denies any wrongdoing, claiming that his government salary of $5,000 is what paid for his $124 million villa in Paris and his expensive collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia. 

Although a major oil and gas producer, one of Africa’s biggest, 67 percent of Equatorial Guineans are poor. The country’s maturing oil fields have seen its crude supply dwindle in recent years to nearly half of what its daily output used to be.

Sunday’s ballot was brought forward several weeks from April 2023 to reduce costs, President Obiang said on the campaign trail last week. Vote counting on the government’s website is ongoing and will likely conclude on Monday.