Pastor who called E Guinea’s president a ‘demon’ freed

Pastor who called E Guinea's president a 'demon' freed
AFP President Teodoro Obiang Nguema pardoned the former justice minister

Political Unrest and Free Expression in Equatorial Guinea: The Release of a Controversial Pastor

Rubén Maye Nsue Mangue, a well-known pastor and ex-minister of justice in Equatorial Guinea, was unexpectedly released from prison after serving two years. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s amnesty, which includes this release, helps to clarify the complicated political situation in this oil-rich West African country.

The Scandal That Started It All

The 2022 arrest of Mangue was brought about by an audio tape that had gone viral, in which he had called President Obiang a “demon” and said that he was “holding his people as prisoners.” He was immediately arrested on allegations of inciting public unrest as a result of this audacious speech. A further measure taken by the justice ministry was to forbid Mangue from preaching, so reducing his influence within the religious community.

President Obiang: The Most Eleven-Term Leader in Africa

Looking into the political climate of Equatorial Guinea is essential for grasping the seriousness of Mangue’s acts. Since assuming power in a coup in 1979, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema—now 82 years old—has maintained his position. His forty-plus year reign has garnered both admiration and condemnation from throughout the world, since he is now the longest-serving dictator in Africa.

President Obiang has long been characterized by human rights groups as among the most autocratic dictators in Africa. Many have long been concerned about his administration’s stance on political opposition and journalistic freedom. Questions over the country’s level of democracy have been further exacerbated by the 2022 elections, in which Obiang was re-elected with a resounding 95% of the vote.

Release and Detention of Mangue

Reportedly, Mangue did not have access to legal counsel or a proper trial for his whole two years in prison. After being released, Mangue spoke to AFP and said, “I was in preventive detention,” emphasizing the vagueness of his incarceration.

Mangue and nineteen others were granted amnesty in a new decision, but only if they would “behave with dignity as repentant citizens.” This language may be used to discourage future disagreements by implying that compliance is expected.

A Multi-Faceted Political Agent

A look into Rubén Maye Nsue Mangue’s past reveals a complicated political and religious career. A prominent figure in Equatorial Guinea’s religious landscape, he is an ordained Pentecostal pastor with the Prophetic Ministry Church of the Shadow of Christ.

His time in politics has been noteworthy as well. Between 1998 till 2004, Mangue was the minister of justice until he was removed in a cabinet shakeup. In his subsequent diplomatic career, he was ambassador to the US in 2013 and Equatorial Guinea’s permanent envoy to the AU in 2007.

Nonetheless, disagreements did arise during Mangue’s time in office as ambassador. Allegations of sexually assaulting a girl at his apartment in the United States surfaced in 2014. He remained free on accusations because of diplomatic immunity, and no official reaction was given at the time.

Consequences for Free Expression

Questions of political dissent and the right to free expression are brought up by the Rubén Maye Nsue Mangue case in Equatorial Guinea. The difficulties encountered by individuals who oppose the state are exemplified by his detention for expressing criticism of the president and the prohibition on his preaching.

There are other possible readings of the amnesty that Mangue and others received. This may seem like a kind gesture from the government, but it’s really just President Obiang showing off his penchant for pardoning and punishing people as he pleases.

Proximity to Future Events

There will certainly be continued international vigilance over Equatorial Guinea going ahead. The government’s decision to free Mangue and others raises questions about its stance on dissent and may be an attempt to appease international criticism.

A complicated illustration of the dangers of speaking out against the government, the Rubén Maye Nsue Mangue case illustrates this point for the people of Equatorial Guinea. Finding a middle ground between authoritarianism and democratic advancement is a major obstacle as the nation fights for political freedom and human rights.

Finally, in the political history of Equatorial Guinea, the liberation of Rubén Maye Nsue Mangue is a watershed moment. It is a sobering reminder of the difficulties of political dissent under totalitarian regimes and of the persistent conflicts between governmental control and personal liberty.

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