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The world's longest-serving president just appointed his son as VP

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Until this year, Teodoro Obiang Nguema had never won less than

97 percent of the vote in an election. Perhaps the immense

international scorn he has faced in recent years caused him to loosen

his grip a bit, because he won only 93.7 percent when reelected to

his sixth term as leader of Equatorial Guinea this year. He is the

world’s longest-serving president, having ruled for almost 37 years.

According to local television stations, he has further consolidated

his power by promoting his son, Teodoro “Teodorín” Obiang Mangue,

from “second vice president” to simply vice president. Power has been

in the family for Equatorial Guinea’s entire existence as an

independent country. The current president toppled his uncle in a

violent coup in 1979, before sentencing him to death by firing squad.

Since then, he has consolidated his grip over the country’s

industries and is accused of diverting tax money into his personal

accounts. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. In 2014, U.S.

authorities forced Teodorín to relinquish his $30 million home in

Malibu, Calif.; a Gulfstream jet; a Ferrari; and dozens of pieces of

Michael Jackson memorabilia worth more than $1 million, all bought

with money funneled through offshore bank accounts. Court documents

reviewed by the Justice Department showed that Teodorín received an

official salary of less than $100,000 but amassed more than $300

million in assets through corruption and money laundering.

“Through relentless embezzlement and extortion, Vice President Nguema

Obiang shamelessly looted his government and shook down businesses in

his country to support his lavish lifestyle, while many of his fellow

citizens lived in extreme poverty,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie

R. Caldwell said at the time. The problem of dynastic

authoritarianism is shared by Equatorial Guinea’s slightly larger

neighbor Gabon, which also relies heavily on the oil and gas

industry. Omar Bongo ruled Gabon from independence until 2009 — 42

years — and his son Ali is now president. Bongo enjoys close enough

ties to the United States that he and his wife sat next to President

Obama and the first lady at a state dinner in 2014. Gabon even held a

seat on the U.N. Security Council in 2010 and 2011. Across Africa,

leaders have historically resisted term limits and are often accused

of doing so to continue lining their pockets. To try to counter that

trend, a wealthy Sudanese businessman named Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim

announced a $5 million annual cash prize in 2007 to be given to

African leaders who step down in the interest of promoting democracy.

In nine years, it has been awarded four times, not counting a prize

ceremonially given to Nelson Mandela. The prize went unawarded this

year. No African leader met Ibrahim’s “very high bar” for

“exceptional leadership.”
Washignton Post
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