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Vol 44 No 3

Published 7th February 2003


Equatorial Guinea

Oiling the palm trees

Africa's latest oil state is learning the tricks of the multinational trade

The grand plan to reform Equatorial Guinea has hit the rocks. Companies operating in the world's fastest growing oil economy have stood back as President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo defies criticism of human rights abuses and corruption. Last November, he told a correspondent that oil earnings would stay a 'state secret', hidden from the International Monetary Fund or anyone else. Above parliament and government, real power is held by Obiang and a Consejo de Família (Family Council) of elders from Mongomo. His home town provides almost all the armed forces, with senior ranks filled from the dominant Esangui clan.

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