Equatorial Guinea President agrees to release political prisoners

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EQUATORIAL Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has agreed to a request for the release of several political prisoners, two of whom had already been freed, according to Portuguese news agency Lusa.

Andrés Esono Ondo, leader of the opposition Convergence for Social Democracy party, told Lusa that during a meeting on Friday, the president pledged to release political prisoners.

‘Above all, our party partner and human rights activist Joaquin Elo Ayeto, who had been unjustly detained for a year without trial,’ said Ondo.

‘We asked for the release of another group, eight or nine people who were arrested last July,’ he said, adding that Obiang had ‘committed to getting them out’ of prison.

Ondo told Lusa that identifying more political prisoners ‘is a somewhat complicated situation’.

‘A person is arrested, and out of fear the relatives don’t dare to denounce or name the detainees. This has also created a problem for us,’ he said.

He said two detainees had already been released, including Ayeto who was arrested in February last year at his home.

For the future, Ondo reaffirmed the desire of his party for a democratic and peaceful ‘political transition to avoid an outbreak of conflict’ in the country.

‘When a person stays in power for 40 years and does not allow democracy in the country, the other groups, who also feel legitimate and entitled to access power, may be tempted to seek it through violence,’ he warned, adding that any solution for the country could not entail violence.

Since independence from Spain in 1968, Equatorial Guinea has been regarded by human rights organisations as one of the most repressive countries in the world, particularly because of accusations of detention and torture of dissidents, and repeated allegations of electoral fraud.

Nguema has led the country since 1979 when he overthrew his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema in a coup.

 

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