Freedom in the World 2017 - Equatorial Guinea

Freedom Status: 
Not Free
Political Rights: 
Civil Liberties: 
Aggregate Score: 
Freedom Rating: 

Equatorial Guinea holds regular elections, but the voting is neither free nor fair. The current president, who took power in a military coup that deposed his uncle, has led a highly repressive authoritarian regime since 1979. Oil wealth and political power are concentrated in the hands of the president’s family. The government frequently detains the few opposition politicians in the country, and cracks down on any civil society groups that have the slightest appearance of being politically engaged. The government also censors and harasses the country’s small number of journalists, including those who work for state media. The judiciary is under presidential control, and security forces engage in torture and other violence with impunity.

Key Developments in 2016: 
  • President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was awarded a new seven-year term in a tightly controlled presidential election in April. The main opposition party boycotted the vote.
  • In June, Obiang appointed one of his sons to serve as the sole vice president, a post that made him the legal successor to the 74-year-old incumbent.
Executive Summary: 

President Obiang was credited with 93.5 percent of the vote in the April 2016 presidential election. As with previous elections, the campaign took place in a highly restrictive environment. In March, the government suspended the activities of the Center for the Study and Initiatives for Development, a prominent civil society group. The main opposition party, Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), boycotted the election, and other factions faced police violence, detentions, and torture. One opposition figure who had been barred from running for president, Gabriel Nse Obiang Obono, was put under house arrest during the election, and police used live ammunition against supporters gathered at his home.

One of the president’s sons, Teodoro “Teodorín” Nguema Obiang Mangue, was appointed in June to serve as the sole vice president, essentially confirming speculation that he was being groomed to succeed his father. There have been reports, however, that some political elites do not support Teodorín’s succession. He had previously held the title of “second vice president,” a position that did not exist in the constitution. Teodorín remained the focus of several international money-laundering investigations during the year.

Political Rights

Political Rights 1 / 40

A. Electoral Process 0 / 12

A1. Is the head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections?
A2. Are the national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections?
A3. Are the electoral laws and framework fair?


B. Political Pluralism and Participation 1 / 16

B1. Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system open to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings?
B2. Is there a significant opposition vote and a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections?
B3. Are the people’s political choices free from domination by the military, foreign powers, totalitarian parties, religious hierarchies, economic oligarchies, or any other powerful group?
B4. Do cultural, ethnic, religious, or other minority groups have full political rights and electoral opportunities?


C. Functioning of Government 0 / 12

C1. Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?
C2. Is the government free from pervasive corruption?
C3. Is the government accountable to the electorate between elections, and does it operate with openness and transparency?


Civil Liberties

Civil Liberties 7 / 60

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief 4 / 16

D1. Are there free and independent media and other forms of cultural expression?
D2. Are religious institutions and communities free to practice their faith and express themselves in public and private?
D3. Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free of extensive political indoctrination?
D4. Is there open and free private discussion?


E. Associational and Organizational Rights 0 / 12

E1. Is there freedom of assembly, demonstration, and open public discussion?
E2. Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations?
E3. Are there free trade unions and peasant organizations or equivalents, and is there effective collective bargaining? Are there free professional and other private organizations?


F. Rule of Law 0 / 16

F1. Is there an independent judiciary?
F2. Does the rule of law prevail in civil and criminal matters? Are police under direct civilian control?
F3. Is there protection from political terror, unjustified imprisonment, exile, or torture, whether by groups that support or oppose the system? Is there freedom from war and insurgencies?
F4. Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?

G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights 3 / 16

G1. Do individuals enjoy freedom of travel or choice of residence, employment, or institution of higher education?
G2. Do individuals have the right to own property and establish private businesses? Is private business activity unduly influenced by government officials, the security forces, political parties/organizations, or organized crime?
G3. Are there personal social freedoms, including gender equality, choice of marriage partners, and size of family?
G4. Is there equality of opportunity and the absence of economic exploitation?


Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)
X = Score Received
Y = Best Possible Score
Z = Change from Previous Year

Full Methodology

Explanatory Note: 

This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2017. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Equatorial Guinea, see Freedom in the World 2016