Constitutional Reform

Constitutional Reform

November 17, 2011
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A timeline of the 2011 constitutional reform process in Equatorial Guinea.

This year, Equatoguinean president Teodoro Obiang proposed several changes to the constitution of Equatorial Guinea, including establishing a limit of two terms of seven years on the presidency, creating the office of vice-president, adding a second chamber to parliament, and creating a "Court of Auditors" to oversee government programs, contracts and expenditures. Below is a timeline of the reform process.

On March 24, 2011, President Obiang held a meeting with the country’s legalized political parties to express “the advisability of reviewing the constitution… in order to correct certain deficiencies.” 

On May 9, 2011, President Obiang issued Decree 84-2011, which established a 31-member National Committee tasked with studying the proposed constitutional reforms (only 29 members actually joined the committee). On May 12, President Obiang met with the committee in Bata to offer various “guidelines” to the participants. The committee spent 7 days in San Antonio de Palé, the capital of the island province of Annobon.

On May 30, the National Committee submitted its report on the proposed constitutional reforms to President Obiang at the Peoples Palace in Malabo.

On July 14, the House of Representatives met in a special session in Malabo to approve the constitutional reforms. The House gave its approval on July 15, effectively giving the president the go-ahead to hold a popular referendum to vote on the proposed reforms.

On July 21, the opposition political party Convergencia para la Democracia Social de Guinea Ecuatorial (CPDS) published a letter critical of what it called “a fraudulent process to amend the constitution.” CPDS alleged that the government did not provide the House of Representatives sufficient time and resources to analyze and debate the reforms, but rather, treated the House as a rubber-stamp to legitimize President Obiang’s reform plan.

On October 14, President Obiang signed Decree No. 139/2011, which set the date for the electoral referendum on the constitutional reforms for Sunday, November 13. 

On October 20, President Obiang appointed his son, Teodoro Nguema, as the National Director of the referendum campaign for PDGE, the ruling political party. 

On November 1, government authorities arrested Marcial Abaga Barril, a representative of the main opposition party and a civil society activist, on dubious charges. He was released without charges on November 4. 

On November 11, EG Justice and Human Rights Watch issued a joint-statement that denounced the nondemocratic nature of the reform process and the fact that the proposed constitutional changes would serve to strengthen the already near-absolute powers of the presidency.

On November 13, a referendum was held to amend the constitution. It was marred by numerous irregularities, including voting fraud, voter intimidation, and harassment of opposition party members.

On November 16, the government announced that the reforms had passed with the approval of 97.7 percent of voters and 91 percent voter turnout, figures that EG Justice and Human Rights Watch deemed lacked credibility given the widespread voting irregularities reported during the referendum. 

To view a copy of the constitutional reforms and how they amend the 1995 constitution, click here

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