Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is a stubborn man. In 2008, the president of Equatorial Guinea made a $3 million donation to UNESCO to underwrite a prize in the life sciences. But a groundswell of opposition from human rights groups, press freedom organizations, and governments appalled by Obiang's record of kleptocracy and human rights abuses helped raise a global ruckus. Public pressure eventually forced UNESCO's executive board to reach a face saving agreement to suspend the prize while promising "to continue the consultations among all parties."
The Committee to Protect Journalists joined with eight other human rights organizations today in opposing the bid for a UNESCO life sciences prize named after Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. CPJ and other groups have consistently voiced their opposition to this prize, saying that Equatorial Guinea's human rights record undercuts the UNESCO mission.
Last year, after human rights organizations, press freedom groups, scientists, journalists, and intellectuals spoke out against the bid, the Obiang prize was suspended indefinitely.
The press release can be seen here.
The African Union announced on Sunday that the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, will become the new chairman in the union's yearly rotating leadership. The first debate Obiang (at left) presided over at the two-day AU conference that ends today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, concerned "shared values"--highlighting issues of democracy and good governance. Representing one of Africa's most oppressive dictatorships, with a completely stifled press, the new AU chair could hardly refer to personal experience in such a debate.
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