Equatorial Guinea: Information on Parliament, including structure, how one becomes a Member, roles and responsibilities within the Government, and maximum number of years that a Member of Parliament can be elected for (1995-September 2016) [GNQ105621.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. House of People's Representatives (Cámara de los Representantes del Pueblo) (1995-2013)

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an official at the Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea in Washington, DC stated that [translation] "[b]efore the introduction of the bicameral system, the legislative power resided entirely in the House of People's Representatives" (Equatorial Guinea 30 Aug. 2016). Sources indicate that the Parliament of Equatorial Guinea became bicameral when the Constitution was modified between 2011 () PHW) 2015, 450) and 2012 (IPU 30 Aug. 2016) [1].

According to sources, the House of People's Representatives was made up of 100 members (Equatorial Guinea 30 Aug. 2016; IFES n.d.a). The Political Handbook of the World 2015 (PHW) states that the House of People's Representatives increased from 41 seats during the July 1988 elections, to 80 seats in the 1993 elections, and then again to 100 seats during the 2004 elections (2015, 455). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. Sources indicate that Members of Parliament were elected by direct, universal and secret suffrage (OIF and OUA 1999, 2; Equatorial Guinea 30 Aug. 2016). According to the official at the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea, citizens voted for electoral lists presented by each party ahead of the elections (ibid.). The same source specified that

[translation]

[e]ach party had its own mechanisms to designate the candidates who would occupy the 100 seats that proportionally represented the different geographical constituencies. For example, the official party, the PDGE [Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial)], hold primaries in order to determine who would represent it in each electoral constituency. (ibid.)

The official further explained that each elected legislature lasted five years and that Members of Parliament could serve for an unlimited number of terms (ibid.). According to the same source, each seat was occupied by two Parliamentarians, a titular and a substitute (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

1.1 Roles and Responsibilities of Members

The official stated that the House of People's Representatives' main function was to legislate (Equatorial Guinea 30 Aug. 2016). According to sources, other functions included:

  • Approving the budget law (ibid.; OIF and OUA 1999, 2);
  • Determining the bases of civil, commercial, procedural, penal and labour law (ibid.; Equatorial Guinea 30 Aug. 2016);
  • Regulating fundamental rights and public freedoms (ibid.; OIF and OUA 1999, 2);
  • Questioning members of the cabinet on issues of their competences (Equatorial Guinea 30 Aug. 2016); and
  • Designating committees that investigate any issue concerning the public interest; committees were granted free access to every department of the administration (ibid.).

Further information on the roles and duties of Members of Parliament could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Bicameral Parliament (since 2013)

Articles 54-79 of Chapter IV of the Fundamental Law of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea of 1982 and amended in 2012 outline the provisions common to both the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) and the Senate (Senado) (Equatorial Guinea 1982). The Fundamental Law of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea of 1982 and amended in 2012 is attached to this Response.

According to sources, Deputies are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system (IFES n.d.b; IPU 6 Sept. 2016). The website of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a Geneva-based international organization of parliaments working on "world-wide parliamentary dialogue" (ibid. n.d.a), indicates in PARLINE, the IPU database containing "information on the structure and working methods of 271 parliamentary chambers in all of the 193 countries where a national legislature exists" (ibid. n.d.b), that the same applies to Senators (ibid. 30 Aug. 2016). IPU also states that Equatorial Guinea is divided into multi-member constituencies and that parties and coalitions contesting the election for the Chamber of Deputies "must surpass a 10 per cent threshold to win Parliamentary representation" (ibid. 6 Sept. 2016). The same applies for senatorial elections (ibid. 30 Aug. 2016). According to the same source, "[v]oting is not compulsory" for either the Senate (ibid.) or Chamber of Deputies (ibid. 6 Sept. 2016). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the Université de Sherbrooke's "Perspective monde," a website that provides information on current events through contributions by professors, researchers and students (Université de Sherbrooke n.d.a), Equatorial Guinea's President rules [translation] "without being necessarily supported by the legislative branch" (ibid. n.d.b). The website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs similarly states that Equatorial Guinea's regime is [translation] "autocratic" and that

[d]ecision making stems to a large extent from the Presidency; the opposition is almost nonexistent or in exile; the presidential party exerts control on the whole society, the press is controlled by the State and the judicial system is deficient. (France n.d.)

According to the Coalition d'opposition pour la restauration d'un État démocratique (CORED), an Equatoguinean opposition group established in Paris that aims for a democratic transition in Equatorial Guinea (CORED n.d.a), the Parliament is [translation] "only dedicated to ratify the dictator and his family's decisions" (ibid. n.d.b).

2.1 Chamber of Deputies

Articles 80-82 of Chapter IV of the Fundamental Law of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea of 1982 and amended in 2012 outline the provisions on the Chamber of Deputies, including its structure, terms in office, roles, and responsibilities of Deputies (Equatorial Guinea 1982).

The official at the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea indicated that Deputies' five-year mandates are [translation] "indefinitely renewable" (ibid. 30 Aug. 2016).

The IPU states that in order to be eligible, candidates for the Chamber of Deputies must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen of Equatorial Guinea over 25 years of age.
  • Be in full possession of one's civil and political rights.
  • Be a native or have taken up residence in an electoral district and have been registered as living there in the census.
  • Know how to read and write properly. (ibid. 6 Sept. 2016)

According to the same source, candidates must be endorsed by registered political parties or electoral coalitions (ibid.). The IPU also provides the following list of situations that disqualify an individual for candidacy for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies:

  • Those subject to a sentence depriving them of their liberty, for the duration of the sentence.
  • Even if the sentence does not involve imprisonment, those convicted of electoral fraud, rebellion, breaches of State security or attacks on the life, physical integrity or liberty of persons.
  • Church ministers of any religion.
  • Members of a political party other than the one for which they ran as candidates.
  • Persons who, having opted for a foreign nationality, have not given up such a nationality as provided for by law. (ibid)

Corroborating information on the information provided by the IPU could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2.2 Senate (Senado)

Articles 83-88 of Chapter IV of the Fundamental Law of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea of 1982 and amended in 2012 outline the provisions on the Senate, including its structure, terms in office, roles, and responsibilities of Senators (Equatorial Guinea 1982).

Sources indicate that the current Senate contains fifteen members directly appointed by the President (IPU 30 Aug. 2016; PHW 2015, 455). According to sources, the Senate also includes 55 elected members (ibid.; IFES n.d.c). In contrast, the IPU states that there are 56 elected Senators presiding in the upper house (IPU 30 Aug. 2016). According to the same source, five "ex officio members" are also currently sitting in the Senate (ibid.).

The IPU website indicates that in order to be eligible for Senate service, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Citizenship of Equatorial Guinea
  • Age: over 25 years old
  • Full possession of civil and political rights
  • Birth or residence in an electoral district; registration on the corresponding electoral roll
  • Knowledge of how to read and write properly
  • Knowledge of how to interpret the Basic Law. (ibid.)

The same source notes that candidates must be endorsed by registered political parties or electoral coalitions (ibid.). Corroborating information on the information provided by the IPU could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The official at the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea indicated that Senators' five-year mandates are [translation] "indefinitely renewable through popular elections" (Equatorial Guinea 30 Aug. 2016). The same source specified that Senators who are appointed by the President can serve an indefinite number of terms as long as they are re-appointed by the President (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] The translation of the Fundamental Law of Equatorial Guinea indicates that the reform of the constitution was "adopted at the Referendum of 23 November 2011 and promulgated on 26 February 2012" (Equatorial Guinea 1982, Title).

References

Coalition d'opposition pour la restauration d'un État démocratique (CORED). N.d.a. "Présentation." [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

Coalition d'opposition pour la restauration d'un État démocratique (CORED). N.d.b. "2-Gouvernement et institutions." [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

Equatorial Guinea. 30 August 2016. Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea in Washington, DC. Correspondence from an official to the Research Directorate.

Equatorial Guinea. 1982 (amended 2012). The Fundamental Law of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, 1982. Translated by Jefri J. Ruchti. In World Constitutions Illustrated. Edited by Jefri Jay Ruchti. Buffalo, NY: Williams S. Hein & Co., Inc.

France. N.d. Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du développement international. "Présentation de la Guinée équatoriale." [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). N.d.a. "Republic of Equatorial Guinea: Election for Cámara de Representantes del Pueblo (House of People's Representatives)." ElectionGuide. [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). N.d.b. "Republic of Equatorial Guinea: Election for Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies)." ElectionGuide. [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). N.d.c. "Republic of Equatorial Guinea: Election for Senado (Senate)." ElectionGuide. [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). 6 September 2016. "Equatorial Guinea: Cámara de los Diputados (Chamber of Deputies)." [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). 30 August 2016. "Equatorial Guinea: Senado (Senate)." [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). N.d.a. "What is the IPU?" [Accessed 19 Sept. 2016]

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). N.d.b. "PARLINE Database on National Parliaments." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2016]

Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (IOF) and Organisation de l'Unité africaine (OUA). 1999. Rapport de la mission d'observation des elections legislatives du 7 mars 1999. [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

Perspective monde, Université de Sherbrooke. N.d.a. "La structure du site Perspective monde." [Accessed 19 Sept. 2016]

Perspective monde, Université de Sherbrooke. N.d.b. "Guinée Équatoriale." [Accessed 14 Sept. 2016]

Political Handbook of the World 2015 (PHW). 2015. "Equatorial Guinea." Edited by Tom Lansford. Washington, DC: CQ

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: EG Justice; Equatorial Guinea – Oficina de Información y Prensa; Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme; Historian on Development Cooperation with Equatorial Guinea; Human Rights Watch; Institute for Security Studies; Professor of anthropology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; Independent Academic Author.

Internet sites, including: BBC; Council of Europe; ecoi.net; Investir en zone franc; Radio France internationale; Reporters Without Borders; Réseau Francophone de Diffusion du Droit; Transparency International; United Nations – Human Rights Council, Refworld.

Attachment

Equatorial Guinea. 1982 (amended 2012). The Fundamental Law of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, 1982. Translated by Jefri J. Ruchti. In World Constitutions Illustrated. Edited by Jefri Jay Ruchti. Buffalo, NY: Williams S. Hein & Co., Inc.