After the United States in 1994 withdrew its ambassador and
closed its embassy, the relationship between Equatorial
Guinea and the United States had been severely chilled. That
changed after the terrorist attack in New York in September
2001. An Israeli think tank formulated a new Africa policy
for the United States in which West African oil was to
replace Middle Eastern oil, thus reducing the superpower's
oil dependency on the Middle East. Israel had its US policy
changed, the relationship gradually improved between the US
and Guinea, and in 2006 the embassies were reopened.
In June 2002, 68 people - including the main opposition
leader, Plácido Micó Abogo - were arrested and accused of
preparing a coup against Obbiang Nguema. Acc. Amnesty
International showed several of the arrested afterwards
signs of torture.
At the December 2002 election, the president was
re-elected with 100% of the vote - according to the. the
official information. Opposition leaders characterized the
election as characterized by scams.
Although 60% of the population lives in poverty and 7% of
the population is affected by AIDS or HIV, the country
nevertheless had the highest economic growth with 19%
annually over the last 10 years.
In January, Silvestre Siale resigned as President of the
Supreme Court. In his resignation petition to Obiang, he
wrote that - unsuccessfully - he had devoted all his work to
improving the judiciary. The opposition stated that his
resignation was indicative of the Obiang regime being unable
to solve the problems of corruption in the country.
In March, a group of mercenaries were arrested accused of
trying to overthrow Obiang's government. The group was
linked to another group that had been arrested in Zimbabwe.
In the same month, a crisis erupted around immigrants in the
country and hundreds of illegal immigrants were deported
back to their countries of origin.
In April's parliamentary and municipal elections,
Obiang's PDGE and allied parties received 98 of the 100
seats in parliament and all 244 seats in municipal councils
except for 7. International observers criticized both the
way the election was conducted and the outcome.
In August, in Malabo, the trial began against 19
mercenaries of South African and Armenian origin, who were
accused of attempting to overthrow Obiang in March.
In October, Equatorial Guinea's exile government in
Madrid, led by Severo Moto, announced that there had been a
failed coup attempt against Obiang. The president's brother
and the director general of the national security service,
Armengol Ondo Nguema, had tried to kill the president during
a hunt, thereby being able to take over the government.
That same month, the wave of arrests increased by about
300 detentions. The self-governing exile government
condemned the arrests, claiming they had been carried out by
another of the president's brothers, Teodoro Obiang.