- In one of the largest gatherings of Equatoguineans abroad, the exiled opposition this weekend took to the streets of Madrid. The demonstrators wanted to call the attention of Spanish authorities to the chaotic political situation and lack of freedom in Equatorial Guinea, a country that hosts the largest numbers of prisoners of conscience in sub-Saharan Africa.
The demonstration, which gathered around 150 protesters, started on Saturday morning outside the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ended up one and a half hour later in front of the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea. Here, members of the exiled opposition held appeals demanding democratisation. The appeal had been signed by all major exiled Equatoguinean opposition parties.
Other appeals were by disillusioned members of the Diaspora, complaining over the hardships of a life in exile and of the complicity of Western powers with the regime of Equatoguinean Dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Some speakers lamented their destiny as "second class citizens" in Spain and doubted they would ever be able to return to their country, which already was "largely destroyed by one of sub-Saharan Africa's most cruel and crude dictatorships."
- Obiang, thief and assassin, the crowd shouted. "Step down! The people doesn't want you anymore," the demonstrators jointly shouted steadily, less and less aware that they were far, far away from their home land. After a time, some had an expression as if they felt they stood in front of the presidential palace in Malabo, shouting to the Dictator in person.
But Malabo is thousands of kilometres south of Madrid, and the demonstrators at last seemed to realise just that. One of them, the legendary opposition leader Severo Moto Nsa, president of the Progress Party and the self-proclaimed "exiled government of Equatorial Guinea", urged that this freedom that the protesters were enjoying in the streets of Madrid "also should reach the streets of Malabo as soon as possible."
The outspoken aim of the demonstration war to ask Spain - the former colonial power - and the rest of the international community to increase the pressure against the regime of President Obiang. Currently, the country's growing oil production has made most Western powers ignore the constant human rights violations in Equatorial Guinea.
Given this aim, the demonstrators and exiled politicians were somewhat disappointed by the absence of Spanish broadcasting media and newspapers. The call for Spaniards "to line up with" Equatorial Guinea's pro-democracy movement and to urge the freeing of political prisoners was therefore largely ignored.
The opposition demonstration in Madrid was organised just one week after Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos visited Equatorial Guinea and promised President Obiang to maintain control over the exiled opposition to avoid further coup attempts. Mr Moto is widely accused of having tried to overthrow the Obiang regime in a coup attempt in March last year, which he however denies.
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