Spanish diplomatic sources report that the authoritarian President of its former colony of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macias Nguema, has been overthrown in a bloodless coup by military officers pledged to restore democracy in the tiny West African state.
Spanish diplomatic sources report that the authoritarian President of its former colony of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macias Nguema, has been overthrown in a bloodless coup by military officers pledged to restore democracy in the tiny West African state. President Macias, who has been widely accused of massive violations of human rights, was arrested on Friday (3 August) in his home town of Mongomo near the Cameroon border. A supreme military council headed by the former President's personal military aide, Lieutenant-Colonel Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, now controls the country, and has sent messages to the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) informing them of the take-over.
SYNOPSIS: Former President Macias survived an attempted coup at the Presidential palace in 1969, only five months after the country's independence. The President claims Spain was involved in the coup and asked for UN help in supervising the withdrawal of Spanish forces. President Macias' accusations were the beginning of a deterioration in relations with Spain which culminated in the suspension of diplomatic ties in 1977. President Macias came to power after democratic elections held in September 1968, but he dissolved the National Assembly in 1971. Foreign newsmen were banned from entering the country, but limited reports filtering through, spoke of his rule as one of 'systematic terror and oppression".
Relations with the country's Southern neighbour, Gaban also deteriorated in 1972 when Equatorial Guinea extended its territorial waters. OAU mediation finally settled the dispute. Diplomatic sources in Madrid say there is an atmosphere of euphoria in the capital of Malabo following the coup. The Spanish government said on Sunday (5 August) that hundreds of people had died under President Macias' administration. The International Commission of Jurists claims one hundred thousand people - one third of the population fled the country during President Macias' rule. Their report says political prisoners were tortured and killed, some by having their skulls smashed with iron bars. Spain says it is ready to restore full diplomatic links with Equatorial Guinea and will start ferrying emergency aid to the new government later in the week.