Equatorial Guinea - Government

By referendum on 11 August 1968, Equatorial Guineans approved a constitution that became effective on Independence Day, 12 October 1968. The constitution required the country to join the UN and to coordinate Spanish financial, technical, and administrative assistance until total "Africanization" was achieved. Separatist activities on Bioko led to the suspension of the 1968 constitution in May 1971. The president assumed all powers and ruled by decree until a second constitution was approved by referendum in July 1973. Under this constitution, the only legal party, the United National Workers Party, designated deputies to the National Assembly and had the power to remove them. An article requiring election of the president by direct, secret, universal suffrage was suspended for President Francisco Macías Nguema, who had been proclaimed president for life on 23 August 1972.

After the 1979 coup, a new constitution was drafted with UN assistance. Approved by 95% of the voters in a referendum on 15 August 1982, this document provided for elections every five years to a National Assembly and for establishment of a Council of State. It also guaranteed civil rights and sets out the foundations of a free-market economy, while reserving for the public sector such key enterprises as energy and broadcasting.

Nominally, since 17 November 1991, Equatorial Guinea has had a constitutional democracy with judicial integrity and multiparty elections. In reality, Obiang's Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) heads an essentially one-party state. Lt.-Col. Obiang Nguema was inaugurated as president in Bata on 12 October 1982, was elected president unopposed on 25 June 1989, and was re-elected in polls widely considered fraudulent in 1996 and 2002.

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