Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) (AFP) – Equatorial Guinea will hold a presidential election on April 24 in which President Teodoro Obiang Nguema will seek to extend his 36 years in office with another seven-year term, official media announced.
“Following consultation with the cabinet on Friday… I have decided that the presidential elections will be on April 24, 2016,” Obiang said in a presidential decree read on state radio.
Africa’s longest serving ruler, 73-year-old Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea with an iron fist for nearly four decades.
His regime has regularly come under fire from rights groups for violent suppression of opposition as well as for rampant corruption.
He is almost certain to win the upcoming election, having been re-elected in 2009 with 95.37 percent of the vote.
Campaigning will start in the central African nation on April 8, concluding April 22, according to the decree.
The presidential election was originally scheduled for November and no reason was given for the delay.
Obiang had declared his candidacy for another seven year term in November at a meeting of his ruling Democratic Party.
He will face off against Gabriel Nse Obiang, considered to be the incumbent president’s main rival, recently announcing his candidacy for the opposition CI party.
Nse Obiang’s national campaign tour was suspended Tuesday “until further notice” and five of his supporters were arrested after they were accused of assaulting a security officer at a public meeting two days earlier.
President Obiang came to power in a coup in 1979, overthrowing the bloody rule of his uncle, Macias Nguema.
His son, second vice president Teodorin Obiang, has been wanted in France since 2014 as part of a corruption probe.
He is suspected of using public funds to buy assets and property in France worth several hundred million euros, according to a source close to the French investigation.