Saturday, 19 Sep 2020

Equatorial Guinea's government, prime minister resign

Announcement comes as country struggles to cope with economic shock linked with coronavirus and crude price drop.

The government and prime minister of Equatorial Guinea have tendered their resignation to President Teodoro Obiang, who said they had not done enough to help the country at a time of crisis.

The Central African oil producer is suffering a double economic shock linked to the coronavirus pandemic and a drop in the price of crude oil, which provides about three-quarters of state revenue.

“The head of state regretted that the outgoing government did not fulfil its policy objectives, which undoubtedly led to this crisis situation,” read a statement on the government website on Friday.

Francisco Pascual Obama Asue had been prime minister since June 2016.

In February 2018, the president dissolved the government before reappointing the prime minister and the three deputy prime ministers to their posts. 

A new government is expected to be announced soon.

Obiang, who has ruled the country since deposing his uncle in a 1979 coup, has been accused by critics of repressing political opponents.

Speculation over the state of the 78-year-old’s health in recent weeks has raised expectations the cabinet could be reshuffled to include those more supportive of his son, Vice President Teodorin Obiang, according to Tutu Alicante, the head of EG Justice, a US-based organisation.

“They were going to move progressively towards having a government, a cabinet, that would not stand in the way of Teodorin fully assuming the governing roles,” Alicante was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The younger Obiang was convicted of embezzlement in France in October 2017 during a trial in absentia. The court ordered the confiscation of assets worth more than 100 million euros ($118m).

Earlier, Swiss prosecutors had confiscated a collection of his supercars under a deal ending a money-laundering inquiry. The cars fetched nearly $27 million ($32m) at auction last September.

The economy of Equatorial Guinea has struggled to recover from a recession caused by a 2014 slump in oil prices and is expected to contract by a further 5.5 percent in 2020, according to International Monetary Fund figures.

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