U.S. Swears in Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea

U.S. Swears in Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea

July 19, 2012
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Mark L. Asquino was sworn-in as the United States’ new ambassador to Equatorial Guinea on Monday, July 16, at the U.S. State Department.

Mark L. Asquino was sworn-in as the United States’ new ambassador to Equatorial Guinea on Monday, July 16, at the U.S. State Department. Under-Secretary of State for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy, directed the swearing-in ceremony. Purificacion Angue Ondo, Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador to the United States, was also present.

In their statements, both Mr. Asquino and Mr. Kennedy highlighted the importance of working with Equatorial Guinea to address human rights and corruption issues, amongst other things.

“The ambassador will continue to urge the [Equatoguinean] government to engage more with stakeholders, including civil society and opposition parties”, said Mr. Kennedy. He also mentioned that Mr. Asquino would continue to encourage Equatorial Guinea’s government to take concrete steps to combat human trafficking.

In his formal address, Ambassador Asquino stated that he would work towards the issues identified by President Obama in his 2009 speech before Ghana’s parliament, including promoting democracy, reinforcing the rule of law, and protecting human rights.

The United States currently holds the lead role in oil and gas exploration in Equatorial Guinea with close to $14 billion invested in the country. Mr. Asquino acknowledged the importance of maintaining a strong economic relationship with Equatorial Guinea, and added that he “will not only be an advocate for commercial interests, but a strong supporter of corporate responsibility programs that help [the people of Equatorial Guinea].”

The ceremony occurred amidst a turbulent week for Equatorial Guinea. A controversial UNESCO prize, funded by the president of Equatorial Guinea, was awarded in Paris the day after the swearing-in ceremony. This came less than a week after France issued an international warrant for the arrest of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is the son of President Obiang, the current second vice-president of Equatorial Guinea, and the prospective heir of the country’s presidency.

Mr. Asquino assured that he will “engage constructively with the government of Equatorial Guinea on challenges it faces, including the needs to reduce corruption, strengthen civil society, and conserve [Equatorial Guinea's] wildlife and ecological diversity.”
 

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