PRELIMINARY DECLARATION: ACP Observation Mission to the Legislative, Senatorial and Municipal Elections in Equatorial Guinea on 26 May 2013
1. At the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, a short-term Election Observation Mission of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) was dispatched to Malabo from 23 to 28 May 2013 to monitor the legislative, senatorial and municipal elections held in that country on 26 May 2013.
2. The Mission was headed by H.E. Mr. Alejandro Augusto GONZALES PONS, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic in Brussels, and also comprised H.E. Mr. Daniel EVINA ABE’E, Ambassador of Cameroon to Brussels, H.E. Mr. Peceli Vuniwaqa VOCEA, Ambassador of Fiji to Brussels, and Mr. Mahamane Aoudou CISSE from the ACP Secretariat. The Mission’s purpose was to monitor the final preparations for and the conduct of the elections to ensure that they were free, fair, transparent and democratic.
3. By way of pre-election activities, the Mission held a briefing session with the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Clemente Engonga Nguema Onguene, First Deputy Prime Minister for the Political Sector and Minister of the Interior and Local Communities. The Mission also exchanged views with other accredited international and regional election observation missions, such as those from the African Union and ECCAS as well as several African and European Ambassadors accredited to Malabo.
4. From these discussions and the information received by the ACP Mission on the eve of the elections, it emerged that the creation of new institutions (senate, Office of Vice-President of the Republic, Court of Auditors, Economic and Social Council and the Office of the Ombudsman) in keeping with the new constitution adopted on 13 November 2011 was a source of great hope for the continuation of the democratisation process. The Mission nonetheless observed that the Equatorial Guinea authorities could have made an extra effort to ensure that broadcast time was allocated fairly among the three political groupings contesting the elections. However, the Mission commended the government’s provision of a grant to fund the activities of the thirteen political parties contesting the elections (11 parties in power and two in opposition), although it felt that the grant would have proved more effective if it had been provided sufficiently in advance.
5. On the day of the elections, the Mission visited a representative sample of the polling stations in the capital, Malabo, as well as in rural constituencies. The long lines in front the polling stations indicated a high voter turnout. The Mission observed, in particular, the opening and closing of the polls in the DU 1035 polling station in the No.1 Malabo Urban District located on the premises of the Ministry of Agriculture, where it was able to assess operational compliance including the counting of votes.
6. In all the polling stations visited, the Mission observed that voting materials and equipment were in order and the procedures were followed to the letter regarding the sealing and storage of ballot boxes, assistance to voters, secret votes and validation of voter registration cards after voting. Nonetheless, the Mission observed the absence of registers for voter signatures. In most polling stations, representatives of at least two of the three contesting political grouping were present.
7. The voting operations were conducted in an orderly and peaceful fashion in all the polling stations where the elections were monitored, and compliance with the procedures was also confirmed by the representatives of the parties interrogated by the Mission. However, the Mission regretted that the three elections were conducted using the same ballot paper, making it impossible for voters to choose separately from the list of candidates proposed for each election.
8. In two polling stations, the ACP Mission observed the suspension of the voting by the presiding officer pending the arrival of ballot papers for the CPDS party, which shows the strict application of the relevant regulations. On the whole, the Mission did not observe any illegal practices or irregularities in any of the polling stations visited or any incidents inside or outside the polling stations. Security was provided at the polling stations visited but the Mission deplored the presence of armed security personnel in several polling stations.
9. The ACP Mission was pleased with the peaceful atmosphere that reigned before, during and immediately after the elections. On the basis of its observations, the ACP Mission considers that the voting process was done in an orderly and democratic manner. Nonetheless, it noted some anomalies in the conduct of the voting process, which it will elaborate on in its final report. It urged all the stakeholders in the elections to abide by the provisions of the Electoral Law, accept the results of the poll and to resort to the legal channels provided to resolve any dispute.
10. The day after the elections, the ACP Election Observation Mission met with the Head of State, H. E. Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, officials of the CPDS political party and other observers of the political situation in Equatorial Guinea. It will compile its observations and recommendations in a comprehensive report which will be examined by the Committee of Ambassadors in Brussels and forwarded to the Government of Equatorial Guinea and all the stakeholders in the electoral process in Equatorial Guinea.
11. The ACP Mission urges the authorities of Equatorial Guinea to pursue the consolidation of the democratic process and the rule of law in order to support and uphold the important economic and infrastructural progress visible throughout the country.
12. The ACP Mission sincerely thanks the Government of Equatorial Guinea for the facilities provided to ensure the smooth conduct of its activities and congratulates the national and international observers, polling agents, representatives of the political parties and all the men and women, who, in one way or another, contributed to the success of these historic elections.
Brussels, 31 May 2013