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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.