ZP gets in with the tough kids

The visit of Teodoro Obiang, dictatorial leader of the former Spanish colony of Guinea Equitorial, to the Spanish Congress this morning has been cancelled due, allegedly, to a tight schedule. Protests from minor parties within Congress are a more likely explanaiton. Obiang technically ducks out of the dictator category, as he does allow elections; however, torture and imprisonment of political rivals make this a technical rather than a meaningful distinction.

As someone who believes in dialogue rather than isolation to try and improve this sort of issue I’m not altogether against the visit, but looking at Obiang’s Madrid schedule you start to see that sorting out domestic problems in Africa isn’t what it’s all about. Zapatero will have tea with him at 5.30 at Moncloa and will presumably revel in the presence of a foreign vistor with whom he doesn’t have to nod politely and utter one of his 10 words in English from time to time. After that the African despot is  rushing off for a couple of hours of high-fiving with representatives from around 40 of Spain’s top companies, including some from the energy sector. Equatorial Guinea is known as the Kuwait of Africa due to its vast oil reserves. 

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~ by Daniel on November 15, 2006.

3 Responses to “ZP gets in with the tough kids”

  1. I think you can not say Obiang he isn’t technically the dictator because he lets elections. You can have the democratic dictatorship and Obiang is absolutist.

  2. James,

    You’re right, of course. As Obiang oppresses opposition parties, the democracy line doesn’t wash and thus he can’t be ruled out of the dictator camp.

    Now I think about it, there is probably the scope for a dictator within a fully functioning democracy, if one sector has such a firm grip on power that it can act unchallenged and abuse its power – which is, I suppose, what you’re referring to with the democratic dictatorship.

  3. why was he invited in the first place?

    oh Europe! great paragons of human rights. let me guess the spanish parliamentarians never hear of equatorial guinea and what goes on there?
    i mean it’s only a former colony but it’s understandable that one can sometimes forget

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