Monday, January 30, 2012

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (born 5 June 1942) is an Equatoguinean politician who has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. He ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in an August 1979 military coup and has overseen Equatorial Guinea's emergence as an important oil producer, beginning in the 1990s. Obiang has also been Chairperson of the African Union from 31 January 2011 to 29 January 2012.

Early Life
Born into the Esangui clan in Acoacán, Obiang joined the military during the colonial period, and attended the Military Academy in Zaragoza, Spain. He achieved the rank of lieutenant after his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, was elected the country's first president. Under Macías, Obiang held various jobs, including governor of Bioko and leader of the National Guard. He was also head of Black Beach Prison, which was notorious for subjecting inmates to severe torture.

After Macías ordered the murders of several members of his own family—including Obiang's brother—Obiang and others in Macías' inner circle feared the president had gone insane. Obiang overthrew his uncle on 3 August 1979 in a bloody coup d'état. Macías was placed on trial for his activities over the previous decade and sentenced to death. His activities had included the genocide of the Bubi. He was executed on 29 September 1979 by firing squad.

Obiang declared that the new government would make a fresh start from Macías' brutal and repressive regime. He granted amnesty to political prisoners and ended the previous regime's system of forced labor. However, virtually no mention was made of his own role in the atrocities of his uncle's rule.

Forbes magazine has said that he is one of the wealthiest heads of state, with a net worth of US$600 million. Official sources have complained that Forbes is wrongly counting state property as personal property.

In 2003, Obiang told his citizenry that he felt compelled to take full control of the national treasury in order to prevent civil servants from being tempted to engage in corrupt practices. To avoid this corruption, Obiang deposited more than half a billion dollars into accounts controlled by Obiang and his family at Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C., leading a U.S. federal court to fine the bank $16 million.

In 2004 an attempt to depose Obiang was thwarted. One of those involved was Mark Thatcher, son of the former UK Prime Minister. In 2008 American journalist Peter Maass called Obiang Africa's worst dictator, worse than Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

With the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in August 2011, Obiang became a contender for the longest ruling non-royal head of state however, using different definitions, Paul Biya of Cameroon and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen have been heads of state for longer.

Obiang is believed to be suffering from terminal prostate cancer. He reportedly favours that his son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue succeeds him.

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