Friday, June 11, 2010

President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea Addresses UNESCO Controversy

The President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial) Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo released comments today regarding the controversy surrounding the "UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences" to be awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) later this month; the prize is intended to promote scientific development and achievements that "improve the quality of human life":

"The opposition to this prize is not because the award is not positive, it's simply because the international community does not want to advocate on behalf of 'President Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.' But they have no reason to oppose the prize. We created the award with the goal of preserving human life. We have allocated significant funding for this prize in order for scientists to conduct studies and so they have the resources they need to find cures -- for the health and well-being of people everywhere, including in Equatorial Guinea. The Government of Equatorial Guinea understands that it is far from perfect and that it still has a great deal of work to do to further improve the lives of its people. The UNESCO prize is a part of that work."

A video of some of President Obiang's comments.

Equatorial Guinea, which up until the late 1990s, was one of the poorest nations in Africa, is currently investing the wealth derived from its recently-discovered natural resources in its infrastructure and citizenry. This effort includes development projects in health and education, as well as an emphasis on promoting agriculture and tourism as a way to diversify the country's economy. The government is also currently working to update out-dated statistical information about the country and its quality of life indicators.