1) Can you describe the obstacles that hamper your political work?
Wenceslao MANSOGO ALO, Secretary of International Relations: Our political work is hampered by many obstacles. Since 1979 the country has been run by a man who seized power in a coup and thinks that the entire country and the revenues from its natural resources (oil, gas, timber in particular) belong to him and has no intention of relinquishing power. He stated his intention to start the transition to democracy in 1990 but this process is going backwards. It was merely intended to get the international community off his back. The main obstacles we face include:
2) How can international aid assist the work you do?
W. M. ALO: International aid could assist us through various actions:
Financial assistance would enable us to work more actively inside the country and meet our core supporters more frequently; enable us to pay our contributions to the international organisations of which we are members; finance our international travel.
Exert pressure on President Obiang’s regime to open up fresh political dialogue with all the dynamic forces in society at large. See question 3.
Help us to raise our international profile by organising meetings between us and internationally important individuals and institutions, inviting and enabling us to attend international meetings and conferences and participating in any other initiative that is likely to help achieve this aim.
Offer international observers at the time of elections in order to reduce electoral fraud.
3) You recently held your 5th party congress. What results that will encourage political dialogue in Equatorial Guinea were achieved?
W. M. ALO: At the end of our 5th Congress we requested and obtained an audience with President Obiang. We asked for a new National Dialogue framework that would involve all the country’s dynamic forces and be open to the international community to be put in place without delay. The President accepted this in principle. We are currently working on a draft of a model framework and the issues that need to be tackled during the course of these meetings and we will submit this to the President in the next few days.
We also raised the problem of access to state media and the setting up of private media. The President also appeared receptive to this.
Against this backdrop, in March we plan to travel to Spain where most Equatorial Guinea exiles live in order to hold discussions with them and consider possible approaches to political collaboration.
We therefore expect all these promises and projects to materialise; but given the benefit of hindsight in our dealings with President Obiang, this is by no means certain.
4) Where do you think Equatorial Guinea will be in ten years’ time and what are its biggest challenges?
W. M. ALO: The next ten years are uncertain as far as Equatorial Guinea is concerned.
It is highly likely that people are currently discreetly manoeuvring and calculating ways of securing the position of his eventual successor.
The main challenge is to succeed in establishing a national mood of political calm. The risk of a coup if President Obiang being deposed must be reduced (prevented). To achieve this, there is an urgent need to convince people of the need to set up constructive National Dialogue without delay and prepare for a genuine transition to democracy. The role of the international community could be decisive in this context.
National Dialogue would be used to negotiate issues of general political interest and set out preconditions:
National Dialogue must result in the establishment of a Government of National Unity which will be tasked with organising free, transparent elections as well as setting up a constituent assembly.