On 14 August the entire government of Equatorial Guinea resigned in the face of its failure to solve the country’s economic crisis, but four days later its leader was reappointed by President Obiang
On 18 August, just four days after resigning along with the rest of his government, Francisco Pascual Obama Asue was reappointed prime minister of Equatorial Guinea by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in a move criticised by the country’s opposition.
Equatorial Guinea, which depends on oil and gas for 90% of its state revenues, has been suffering from a crisis sparked by the 2014 oil slump and exacerbated by the sharp fall in oil prices caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The country’s real GDP has been contracting for six years and is forecast by the IMF to fall by a further 5.5% in 2020.
After accepting the mass resignation on 14 August, President Obiang said he regretted that the government had failed in achieving its objectives, “which without doubt has brought about the crisis, which now requires urgent measures.”
In a statement released on 18 August, the acting minister for finance, César Augusto Mba Abogo, said: “The Government of Equatorial Guinea wishes to state that it is obliged to take strict measures to mitigate the effects of a severe economic downturn and forestall political and social instability…
“To this end, the Government has decided to restructure its ministerial cabinet in order to accelerate the implementation of economic and structural measures currently under way.”
‘More of the same’
The leader of the opposition Ciudadanos por la Innovación party told the Spanish news agency Efe that Obama Asue’s reappointment was “more of the same” and that “there were no political reasons that justify his reappointment [as] he has not accomplished the objectives his government promised the people.”
There was speculation in recent weeks that a cabinet reshuffle might take place to strengthen the position of the president’s son, Vice-President Teodorin Obiang, in view of the president’s poor state of health.
“They were going to move progressively towards having a government, a cabinet, that would not stand in the way of Teodorin fully assuming the governing roles,” Tutu Alicante, the head of EG Justice, a US-based organisation campaigning for human rights in Equatorial Guinea, told news agency Reuters on 15 August.
Teodrin was convicted in absentia of embezzlement in France in October 2017, when a Paris court ordered the confiscation of more than €100m ($118m) of his French assets.
Overcoming the crisis
In his statement, acting finance minister Mba Abogo expressed his confidence that Equatorial Guinea could overcome the crisis.
“Equatorial Guinea continues to be a highly solvent economy with enormous potential for development and growth thanks to the significant stock of high-level economic and social infrastructures and new developments in the gas sector, as well as the prevailing political and social stability,” he said.
He pointed out that as a result of the structural adjustment programme worked out with the IMF the country would receive budgetary support for the period 2020-22 and extraordinary credits to deal with the effects of Covid-19.
“We are convinced that the entire package of structural reforms aimed at restoring economic growth, industrialisation and diversification of sources of growth, strengthening the financial system as a key driver of growth in the non-oil sector, improving the business climate and governance and combating corruption will help us to overcome the current crisis and achieve social inclusion and economic sustainability as outlined in our National Strategy for Sustainable and Inclusive Economic and Social Development, Equatorial Guinea 2035,” he said.