(The Economist) Constitutional reform passed despite accusations of fraud
(The Economist) Constitutional reform passed despite accusations of fraudDecember 13, 2011
Constitutional reforms endorsed by President Obiang passed on November 13, but the outcome of the referendum has been strongly contested by local opposition groups and international human rights groups.
As expected, the constitutional reform endorsed by the president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, was passed in the referendum held on November 13th. According to the National Election Council, the reform was supported by 97.7% of voters, with 91% of the total electorate (of 304,730) participating. However, the outcome of the referendum has been strongly contested by both local opposition and international human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch and EG Justice. In addition to multiple allegations of intimidation and harassment against voters and opposition officials, the opposition accused the authorities of massive ballot rigging. Contrary to the official figures, both the Convergencia para la Democracia Social (CPDS) and the Unión Popular (UP) claimed that the majority of the population had failed to participate in the referendum. Although the CPDS had initially campaigned to reject the constitutional reform at the polls, it decided to pull out of the process before the polls closed in view of the irregularities that it had observed. Many of these irregularities were widely reported in the international media.