Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Equatorial Guinea To Vote November 13 On Constitutional Reform

The government of Equatorial Guinea has set November 13, 2011, for a national referendum on a package of proposed constitutional reforms.

The proposed reforms include the creation of supervisory bodies to improve the effectiveness of the economy and government, such as a Court of Auditors to oversee government programs and expenditures and an Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) to give citizens greater redress in matters before the government. The package includes a proposal to create a Senate, which would convert the nation’s Parliament from a unicameral to a bicameral legislature, and establishes the office of vice-president. Finally, it limits the president to two seven-year terms of office. Currently, the president serves a seven-year term with no limit to the number of terms he can serve.

President Obiang traveled the country extensively in August and September to rally support for the reforms and consulted closely with the nation’s legally constituted political parties. A blue-ribbon panel consisting of representatives of most of the country’s political parties met this past summer in the city of San Antonio de Pale, the provincial capital of Annob√≥n, to study the constitution and recommend reforms.

In a decree issued on October 14, the government announced that the referendum campaign would begin on October 28 and conclude on November 11, two days before the vote. President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo will continue to speak around the country during the campaign period to urge citizens to approve for his proposed reforms.