(Reuters) Rights groups grill Julio Iglesias on E.Guinea show

(Reuters) Rights groups grill Julio Iglesias on E.Guinea show

October 4, 2012
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EG Justice and Human Rights Watch have called on Julio Iglesias to examine how his concert in Equatorial Guinea is being financed, given concerns over government corruption. 

Rights groups grill Julio Iglesias on E.Guinea show

DAKAR Oct 4 (Reuters) - Human rights groups are urging Spanish music star Julio Iglesias to distance himself from Equatorial Guinea's government ahead of a planned concert in the Central African state's capital next week.

In a letter sent to Iglesias on Sept. 26 and seen by Reuters on Thursday, U.S.-based advocacy groups Human Rights Watch (HRW) and EGJustice called on the singer to examine how his concert is being financed in a country earning a vast income from natural resources but still afflicted with widespread poverty.

The United States and other Western nations have accused Equatorial Guinea's government of major human rights abuses and say that its leaders are amassing vast personal fortunes from revenues associated with its oil exports.

HRW said the concert was being organised by TNO Production Guinea Equatorial, a firm owned by the president's son and top government representative, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is the subject of multiple foreign graft probes.

"We are not calling on you to cancel your performance in Malabo but hope that you will inform yourself about the controversies surrounding Mr. Nguema as well as concerns about President Obiang's governance record," the letter said.

"(...) it will be useful for you to issue a public statement addressing (Nguema's) role and the financial arrangements for the concert, as well as distancing yourself from publicity by Mr. Nguema in connection with your concert," it said.

Tiny Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa's top oil producers, but most of its 600,000 citizens live in grinding poverty. It has been ruled by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for more than three decades.

Iglesias, 69, is the world's best-selling Latin musician and is best known for hits like "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" and "Moonlight Lady".

A spokesman for Iglesias was not immediately available. (Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by David Lewis)

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