When I arrived in Equatorial Guinea and presented my credentials to President Obiang, I stated that my goals as Ambassador were to work with the Government of Equatorial Guinea to help expand the democratic space, diversify the economy, and ensure our programs benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea. The Government’s own National Dialogue, celebrated in 2014 with the opposition parties, had the goal of opening the political space and giving equal treatment to all political parties. A vibrant and loyal opposition is necessary to create economic opportunities for everyone. Without hearing the voices, without an independent press that will allow citizens to hear the robust debate that is fundamental to a representative democracy, the government limits the ability of its citizens to make informed choices for the future of the nation.
The recent legislative and municipal elections were an opportunity for the government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea to improve its image on the international stage by expanding its democratic space and demonstrating that it is hearing the voice and the will of its people. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The elections were a step back. The government missed an opportunity. The balloting of candidates did not allow the public to vote freely for candidates to represent them at any level since the voters only had the choice to vote for a party; the members of the public were registered to vote in a process that was not transparent and was not observed by the international or domestic observers; and the final count of the votes were not at all transparent or free, with the chair of the electoral commission providing separate briefings for international representatives to keep them from discussing their views together. Additionally, restrictions on internet and communications systems were enforced.
As the government prepares to take up a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security council, it needs to take advantage of these opportunities to meet its goals of quality public governance in the National Development Plan 2020 (Horizonte 2020).