Presidential Elections in Equatorial Guinea were held on the 24th of April, 2016.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been the President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 and is the longest-serving president in the world, retained his office with 93.7% of the votes in his favor.
Equatorial Guinea is not an electoral democracy and political power rests firmly in the hands of Teodoro Obiang and his supporters. According Freedom House, while international pressure compelled Obiang to establish a multiparty system in 1991, Equatorial Guinea has yet to hold credible elections. Several journalists have also characterised him as Africa's worst dictator. Amnesty International has pointed out that President Teodoro Obiang’s tenure, which has been going on since 1979, witnessed several human rights violations such as suppression of freedom of press and the right to assembly and association, arbitrary detention, and especially human trafficking which has become a major issue in the country.
Equatorial Guinea is apresidential republic, whereby the President is both the head of State and Head of government. Equatorial Guinea has a bicameral National Assembly consisting of the Senate and the House of People’s Representatives. There are 75 seats in the Senate and 100 seats in the House of People’s Representatives. The president of Equatorial Guinea is directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 7-year term, with eligibility for a second term.
Out of the total 332,576 registered voters, final voter turnout was around 89%.Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo retained his office with 93.7% of the votes in his favor, beating 6 other male candidates. He ran as the candidate of the dominant Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea, which is a coalition of ten parties. Till date, Equatorial Guinea has had 0 female candidates standing up for Presidential elections and there is an absence of gender quota in the Equatoguinean political system. In the last parliamentary elections held in 2013, 22 female candidates won, comprising 22%of the total number of seats.
Women's Political Participation
The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was accessioned by Equatorial Guinea in October 1984, whereas the Maputo Protocol was ratified in October 2009. According to our African Women’s Decade (AWD) report, the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea requires, “Legal initiatives and mechanisms to promote the adequate representation and participation of women in public posts and in the performance of other functions in all state institutions.” Equatorial Guinea has a weak representation of women in decision-making positions both in public and private spheres, although a slight increase in women’s political representation recent years has been reported. Unfortunately, negative attitudes around women’s rights, still persist. According to SIGI, although freedom of association is guaranteed in the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea, freedom of assembly and association are severely restricted, meaning that women’s individual freedom of movement is still limited as well as their ability to participate in the public and political sphere. Women make up only a minority of decision-making positions within the country’s political parties and there are no gender quotas at the national or sub-national level to promote women’s political participation.
The law provides for equal rights for women and men, including rights under family law, property law, and in the judicial system; however, the rights of women are limited in practice. According to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the prevalence of negative stereotypes and the "deep-rooted adverse cultural norms, customs, and traditions, including forced and early marriage, and levirate marriage (the practice by which a man may be required to marry his brother's widow)" discriminated against women. In 2013, Antonina Miko Mikue, Counselor of the Presidency of Government on the Advancement of Women in Equatorial Guinea, told UN representatives during the 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that the government created a Family Court to prosecute gender violence and juvenile offenses and to adjudicate marital disputes. In addition, the government oversaw the construction of shelters for victims of violence and the development of education and awareness programs on gender violence and equality.
It is obvious that thecountry should strive towards a more efficient democracy by eliminating dictators and encouraging women to take up leadership positions. The government must focus more on women's health and education, as well as challenge traditionally held stereotypes about women and consider them as equal citizens to men. Furthermore, Equatorial Guinea must increase women’s participation in public and political life by increasing gender quotas.