Exhiled leader denies Thatcher coup plot claims
27 August 2004, MADRID – The Equatorial Guinea opposition leader exiled to Spain has denied any involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the African nation's government, it was reported Friday.
27 August 2004
MADRID – The Equatorial Guinea opposition leader exiled to Spain has denied any involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the African nation's government, it was reported Friday.
Severo Moto, the self-styled "president" of the Equatorial Guinea government in exile, said from his adopted home in Spain he had no connections with Sir Mark Thatcher, the former British prime minister's son who was arrested for his alleged part in the plot.
The Guardian newspaper reports well-placed South African sources said Moto was flown to neighbouring Mali on the eve of the coup, in preparation for his unveiling as the country's new leader.
But Moto, who has been in exile in Spain since 1999, denied any involvement with Thatcher or the alleged coup attempt in the former Spanish colony.
"The claims are absolutely false," he told the Guardian. "I didn't even know [Lady] Thatcher had a son."
However, other sources in Madrid said it was common knowledge that Moto had been planning to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
"In January he was telling anyone who would listen that he was going back to Equatorial Guinea," said Juan José Laborda, a socialist senator. "First it was going to be a naval attack, then it was going to be by air."
Adolfo Marugan, director of the Association for Democratic Solidarity with Equatorial Guinea, added: "Of course he was behind the coup, he does nothing else. He makes another attempt every six months."
Moto sought exile in Spain after being arrested in May 1997 by the Angolan authorities, who found him on board a boat carrying a consignment of arms reportedly for use in a coup.
There is growing speculation in Spain about the previous government's relationship with Moto.
At the time of the alleged coup attempt in March, President Obiang accused the Spanish of supporting the plot. The allegation was lent substance by the fact that two Spanish warships were stationed off the coast of Equatorial Guinea around that time.
At the time, the Spanish foreign minister, Ana Palacio, told El Mundo newspaper: "They weren't on a mission of war, but one of cooperation."
Moto told the Guardian he had been friends with the previous prime minister, José María Aznar, for more than 20 years. "He is one of a number of friends I have in the Popular party. I knew Mr Aznar even before I began my own political career."
Subject: Spanish news