Spanish heads refuse meeting with Guinean President

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African dictator Teodoro Obiang cancels visit to Spain as king and PM refuse to meet with him.

22 July 2008

MADRID - Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang has cancelled a scheduled visit to Spain this Friday after both Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and King Juan Carlos refused to meet with him.

Ostensibly, neither the king nor the prime minister could find space on their agendas to meet with the president of the former Spanish colony, although Spanish officials are thought to be seeking to distance themselves from a man whose human rights groups have accused of being one of Africa's worst dictators.

Obiang had been planning to visit Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, where he trained at a military academy in the 1970s.

The Equatorial Guinean leader's last visit to Spain took place in November 2006 after Zapatero's administration revoked the asylum status of exiled opposition leader Severo Moto, whom Obiang accused of plotting a coup against him. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court overturned the government's decision.

Obiang's tyrannical rule over Equatorial Guinea was reinforced in May. His party won 99 seats in the country's parliament in what was widely seen as a rigged election - leaving just one symbolic opposition politician.

Despite being Africa's third largest oil producer and experiencing double-digit economic growth, most of the country's population of 550,000 continues to live in severe poverty.

[El Pais / Miguel Gonzalez / Expatica]

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