|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Equatorial Guinea
Responding to criticism of Equatorial Guinea’s recent execution of four men accused of an armed attack on the country’s presidential palace last year, the country’s Ambassador said this afternoon that the procedure was constitutional and necessary in the face of repeated violent threats against the State that began when domestic oil started flowing.
“The Court… has acted on the absolute validity of the law of Equatorial Guinea, with full legality and transparency,” according to a Government communiqué read out by Anatolio Ndong Mba to correspondents at Headquarters. The communiqué described the procedures that led to the judgement “against a group of military officers accused for their proven participation in an attempted terrorist attack and military coup on February 17, 2009”, which it said targeted President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and cost the lives of security and military staff members.
Through a statement of condemnation issued in Geneva, independent human rights experts associated with the United Nations — Amada Benavides de Pérez and José-Luis Gomez del Prado, members of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries — had voiced serious concern over the application of the death penalty on the same day as the verdict which they said “follows a summary trial that severely lacked due process”.
Through the statement read out by Mr. Ndong Mba, however, the Government of Equatorial Guinea deplored the fact that those who were questioning the trial today remained silent and indifferent to the conspiracy that could have lead the country into “total destabilization of its legal and democratically-constituted institutions”.
Mr. Ndong Mba added that his country was peace-loving, and that before the exploitation of natural resources began at the end of 1990s, had no external threats. It had been “the poorest of the poorest” and no one cared. Since that time, though, there had been four major attacks, based on conspiracies originating in other countries.
He said that, when the country began to exploit its oil in 1997, it organized an economic conference with all relevant actors including the media, the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to plan to use the income for the development of the country, revisiting the plan in 2007 to create “Horizon 2020” to make progress in all socio-economic areas. Much had already been accomplished. The country had also invited the African Union, NGOs and others to assist in improving its legal and human rights framework.
He said that most people criticizing the country did not even know where it was located, with no one condemning the attempted coup. Pardons given after the 2004 attacks had not met with any appreciation. When all was said and done, he hoped that the United Nations would make a statement against attacks on his peaceful country. If any of the coups had succeeded, a lot of innocent lives would have been lost and possibly a peacekeeping force would have been needed. “You’ve seen what happened in other countries in those situations,” he said.
In response to questions, he confirmed that the executions took place on 21 August and said that they were able to be carried out on the same day as the verdict, without a chance for appeal, because the tribunal was not civil, but a military summary court. Some of the accused, he said, had been captured after going abroad and coming back to attempt further attacks.
Asked about a lack of consular visits for Nigerians jailed after the attack, he said that Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria had excellent relations, and if there were differences over such visitation, the two countries would negotiate a solution. Asked what had happened to the bodies of two Nigerians who were said to have died in the “tensions”, he said he had no information about those deaths.
On the United States Senate investigation into the laundering of millions of dollars by lobbyists, which implicated the son of President Mbasogo, Mr. Ndong Mba said that so much was being invested in the infrastructure of his country, including schools, airports and roads, as well as on health programmes, it was hard to see how money could have been diverted.
On the controversy surrounding Equatorial Guinea’s sponsorship of a prize under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Mr. Ndong Mba said his country believed in solidarity, and had contributed to the recovery of Haiti, China and even the United States after natural disasters. It wanted to promote UNESCO’s research. Other countries supported prizes without such controversies.
Asked about reports of the imprisonment of the only foreign journalist in the country’s capital Malabo, he said his country acknowledged that it had much to improve in many areas. There were no perfect countries, and his country was asking for partners in its efforts. In making improvements in the area of human rights, it was asking assistance from the Red Cross and others. It could not, however, risk instability and allow invasions.
Finally, asked about tens of millions of dollars that had reportedly been spent by the Government of Equatorial Guinea for public relations, he said that lobbying and awareness campaigns were common to many countries and organizations and were not necessarily connected to corruption. The Government wanted to make its views known, since only poverty was being portrayed in descriptions of his country. That gave an unrealistic picture.
* *** *For information media • not an official record