afrol News, 17 March - One of Equatorial Guinea's major opposition parties is planning a protest in favour of pro-democracy reforms and basic human rights in one of Africa's most dictatorial states.
The opposition Popular Union (UP) party now is urging Equatoguineans to participate in ass protests in Malabo on Wednesday 23 March. Protesters will demand "basic liberties" and "improved social conditions" from Equatorial Guinea's Dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who is also the current chairman of the African Union (AU).
Sources from the UP party have confirmed to afrol News that an official request for a permission to hold a pro-democracy protest march in Malabo on 23 March has been presented to city authorities.
"The gathering is called for to demand that basic liberties for the people of Equatorial Guinea are reintroduced and for the improvement of social conditions," the party said in a statement. The organisers openly lean on the protest wave starting in North Africa and now rapidly extending throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
Following the call for pro-democracy protests, Equatorial Guinea's President and AU Chairman Obiang yesterday in a speech accused the organisers of "provoking a rebellion and tainting the image of the country abroad."
President Obiang addressed the protest plans during a speech made in the Malabo parliament. The AU leader in his speech also for the first time made reference to the wave of protests in North Africa, over which he has prohibited any reporting by media in Equatorial Guinea.
"These demands have to be made within an atmosphere of order and discipline so as not to develop into rebellions and civil disobedience, which are unconstitutional," the totalitarian Equatoguinean leader told MPs, indicating the planned protest march in Malabo will not be allowed.
"Equatorial Guinea does not presume to have entirely satisfies the needs of its people. This is what we are treating by our system of 'democracy attempts', which addresses the necessity of updating our system in line with the evolution experienced by our people," he explained the status of democracy in the country.
According to the opposition, however, so-called democracy and human rights reforms so far have been anything but real. Equatorial Guinea, together with Eritrea and The Gambia, is generally described as the most totalitarian dictatorship in Africa, with President Obiang and his family ruling the country as if it was his personal property.
Equatorial Guinea's great oil wealth is completely in the hands of the Obiang regime while the Equatoguinean population keeps living in utter poverty.
The UP party, calling for the protests, was founded in 1988 as a conservative opposition party and its leaders have faced severe repression. It was one of only four parties allowed to present candidates during the 2008 parliamentary and local elections - an exercise generally described as heavily manipulated by the ruling PDGE party of President Obiang.
Not surprisingly, the ruling PDGE won a "landslide victory", according to official results, gaining 90 out of 91 parliamentary seats. The Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), Equatorial Guinea's main opposition party, in 2008 won only one parliamentary seat. Neither the UP nor the third opposition party were given sufficient official votes to enter the Malabo parliament.
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