Equatorial Guinea Opposition Rejects Referendum Win

Equatorial Guinea’s small but vocal opposition on Monday ridiculed official results of a referendum showing 99 percent of voters approved President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s new constitution.

The oil-rich west African country voted Sunday on a constitutional reform that caps presidential terms but could allow Africa’s longest-serving leader to cling on for years whilst grooming his controversial son for succession.

With 60 percent of votes counted, “99.04 percent voted yes and 0.96 percent no,” Information Minister and government spokesman Jeronimo Osa Osa Ecoro announced overnight, adding that definitive results were expected on Wednesday.

Equatorial Guinea was long seen as one of Africa’s most brutal and corrupt regimes but Obiang, now at the helm of sub-Saharan Africa’s third oil producer, has embarked on a charm offensive to improve his image.

The proposed constitution limits presidential terms to two seven-year mandates but does not specify how Obiang himself, whose current tenure ends in 2016, will be affected.

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