Equatorial Guinea has been chosen to host the next Africa Cup of Nations football tournament, to be held from 17 January to 8 February 2015, although its president figures prominently on the Reporters Without Borders list of Predators of Press Freedom.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo continues to appear at international events without ever being challenged over the appalling way he has crushed freedom of information in his country. During the tournament you will see the football stadium turf, the players and the excited public and you will hear the cheers, the scores and interviews but you will not hear anything about the poverty, corruption or political crackdowns because freedom of information is non-existent in Equatorial Guinea.
It is not the first time this year that Nguema Mbasogo, the president for the past 35 years, has managed to pass himself off as a respectable leader. In June, he hosted an African Union summit that turned a deaf ear to protests from human rights and media freedom NGOs, including RWB, and to their calls to raise the issue of how Equatorial Guinea flouts civil liberties. Equatorial Guinea’s economic situation is often portrayed in a favourable light in articles in international publications that are more like advertorials
“Equatorial Guinea has some cards in its hand, above all its sizable oil and gas deposits, which seem to make everyone forget its shocking record as regards fundamental freedoms,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. “We urge the football fans following this tournament, which is supposed to unite nations and promote values, not to forget that, despite its polished facade, Equatorial Guinea is in reality a dictatorship that tramples on its citizens’ rights.”