JUNE 9, 2005
Posted: June 24, 2005
Police at the airport in Bata, the largest city on Equatorial Guinea’s mainland, seized 200 copies of La Verdad, a publication run by the tiny opposition Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS) party. La Verdad, which is licensed by the government but appears irregularly, is printed in the capital, Malabo, which is located on an island off the coast of the oil-rich central African country.
The seizure was linked to the newspaper’s often critical political coverage, according to a CPJ source.
Agence France-Presse reported that the office of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema denied that the seizure had taken place, in response to protests from CPDS leaders and Reporters Without Borders. “We formally deny the false and scandalous reports, which once again are part of a campaign of libel organized by our foes, whose bad faith we have long denounced,” the presidential statement said, according to AFP.
Equatorial Guinea is one of the few African countries to have virtually no private press. While a handful of private papers are authorized, they rarely publish due to political and economic pressures. During 2004 parliamentary and municipal elections in which the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea won a crushing victory amid allegations of fraud, state media referred to opposition activists as “enemies” of the state, according to the exiled press freedom group ASOPGE-Libre.