Obiang, EG's dictator, claims that 'they' are after the oil. Probably so. The question is, though, just who is the 'they'? Following the latest press info on the plot to take over the government that Obiang runs, is yet another article that probably has the answer to that question.
Sunday March 14
E. Guinea demands Spain extradite key opponent over mercenaries
Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Spain unless Madrid extradites a key exiled opposition leader he accuses of plotting to overthrow his regime.
Obiang has charged that Madrid-based Severo Moto Nsa was behind a mysterious group of 15 alleged mercenaries recently arrested in the oil-rich west African state who were apparently intending to overthrow him to end his 25-year rule.
He told a rally by thousands of his supporters that the alleged mercenaries, whom he alleges are linked to 67 men detained in Zimbabwe when their plane was impounded, could face the death penalty.
"If we have to kill them, we will kill them," he said.
The president said that if Spain failed to cooperate in extraditing Moto "there was no reason to maintain diplomatic relations with a country we consider a friend but which supports a puppet, a terrorist."
"We should call on Spain to choose either Severo Moto's government in exile or the one in Equatorial Guinea. If it continues (its support for) the government in exile we prefer to withdraw our ambassador and reconsider our diplomatic relations," he said.
The government announced the arrest of 15 alleged mercenaries on Tuesday.
One of them went on television here on Wednesday and spoke of plans to remove the president from the country before installing a government-in-exile in Madrid, headed by Moto, who had tried to mount a coup against Obiang in 1997 from Angola.
Spain, said Obiang, "must define its policy towards Equatorial Guinea. If it does not hand over Severo to be tried by an internationally recognised court that we shall organise, we will condemn Spain," he said.
"Why is there interference in the internal affairs of Equatorial Guinea?" he told the rally. "The preoccupation of our enemies is the oil wells..." He said the coup plotters "smell oil, for oil they will do anything..."
Equatorial Guinea is ranked third among African oil producers behind Nigeria and Angola.
At Saturday's demonstration, the protesters appealed to the president not to pardon the alleged mercenaries, saying they "deserved death."
The protest was organized by the loyalist Democratic party to express "solidarity" with Obiang.
An AFP correspondent said nearly 10,000 people marched in the demonstration, many of them wearing T-shirts bearing portraits of the president.
The march was led by Prime Minister Candido Muatetemma Rivas and other government members. It included public officials, people from religious orders and members of sports clubs. But the country's only real opposition party, the Convergence for Social Democracy, shunned the demonstration.
Paul Lashmar, The Independent - 11 May 2003
ExxonMobil and other leading oil companies are to face an investigation into how up to $500m came to be paid into a private US bank account, said to be solely controlled by the President of Equatorial Guinea.
The scandal follows revelations last week that the US Justice Department is investigating whether Mobil Oil Corp, now part of ExxonMobil, participated in a plan to route $78m to the Swiss bank account of Kazakhstan's President, Nursultan Nazarbaev, and other senior officials.
Global Witness, a London-based anti-corruption campaign group, has written to John Ashcroft, the US Attorney General, asking him to look into allegations that Equatorial Guinea's ruler, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has between $300m and $500m deposited in the DuPont Circle branch of Riggs Bank in Washington, DC.
"This situation points to a fundamental problem in the oil business - there is no transparency about company payments to national governments," says Gavin Hayman, who monitors Equatorial Guinea for Global Witness.
"President Obiang appears to have taken advantage of a rash of secret deals with US companies to privatise his country's oil wealth to support his brutal regime and his extravagant personal spending." ExxonMobil and Riggs declined to comment.
President Obiang has declared the destination of the country's oil wealth a "state secret".
In June 2003, Tony Blair is to host a transparency conference in London aimed at tackling the corruption that surrounds the exploitation of natural resources in developing countries.
Equatorial Guinea is the only oil-producing country to have refused to attend. Equatorial Guinea has become a major oil and gas producer in the past 10 years, yet the 500,000-strong population remains in poverty.
President Obiang has ruled since 1979, when he deposed and executed his predecessor and uncle. His corruption and human-rights record was so bad that the Clinton administration cut its ambassadorial ties. However, he was one of 10 African leaders invited to meet George Bush last year to discuss the "war on terror".
Equatorial Guinea's oil production has jumped from just 17,000 barrels per day in 1996 to a current rate of more than 220,000 barrels. Details of the Riggs Bank account have emerged after the country's ambassador, Teodoro Biyogo Nsue, who is President Obiang's brother-in-law, unwisely mentioned that oil revenue was held at Riggs during a presentation late last year at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
An investigation by the Los Angeles Times alleged that President Obiang is the account's sole signatory and more than $300m of the country's energy earnings has been deposited in the account by oil companies active in Equatorial Guinea, including ExxonMobil and Amerada Hess.
Alejandro Evuna Owono, a Guinean aide, denied to the LA Times that the government was secretive about oil revenue. "The IMF and the World Bank know national production figures, but we can use the money as we see fit," he said.
Two years ago President Obiang bought a mansion in Potomac, a suburb of Washington, DC, for $2.6m and another home in Rockville, Maryland, for $1.15m.