Armed Forces of Equatorial Guinea
(Fuerzas Armadas de Guinea Ecuatorial)
Since a military coup in 1979, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has dominated all branches of government in collaboration with his clan and political party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), which he founded in 1991. Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest producer of crude oil in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola. By 2016 Equatorial Guinea was one of the most active countried in the purchase of arms in Africa. But information on the armed forces and procurement of this country is very sketchy and very limited in open sources.
Despite increased military procurement and funding, Equatorial Guinea’s military is considered to be poorly trained and equipped, with nepotism determining high-ranking positions in the military and a restrictive centralized structure inhibiting military decision-making. It has mostly small arms, rocket launched grenades, and mortars. Almost none of its Soviet-style light-armored vehicles or trucks are operational. The Equatoguineans rely on foreigners to operate and maintain this equipment as they are not sufficiently trained to do so.
Sunday Dare ["The Curious Bonds of Oil Diplomacy", Center for Public Integrity, November 6, 2002] wrote "The oil companies do not view Equatorial Guinea's military – a product of decades of brutal dictatorial rule – with much confidence. The army is believed to have only about 1,320 men under arms, the navy 120, and the air force 100. Seven of the army's nine generals are relatives of the president; the other two are from his tribe. There is no clear command structure, the level of discipline is low, and professionalism and training are almost non-existent, according to locals and foreign oil workers. Even the presidential guard – an indication of the lack of trust in the country's forces – is composed of 350 Moroccan troops."
The presence of the Civil Guard in the Spanish Territories of the Gulf of Guinea dated back to 1904, when officers and NCOs Corps for the organization and command of the Indian Police were sent. In 1907 by the Royal Orders 30 March 1907 and June 1907 31, the Civil Guard in the Gulf of Guinea is created, the existence of this organization was short-lived as that year by Law 12 December 1907, is created the guard Spanish Colonial Territories Gulf of Guinea, consisting of the Civil guard in the Gulf of Guinea and Customs Resguardo. In 1959, after the War of Ifni-Sahara, the territories of Equatorial Guinea became the Spanish provinces Fernando Poo and Rio Muni, which would lead to the Colonial Guard, changed its name to the Territorial Guard Equatorial Region.
Because of the situation of the African continent, where former colonies of other countries were reaching independence and in order that peace was guaranteed in those provinces Gulf of Guinea, sending Mobile Companies Civil Guard was organized, that Bata same year reached the components of the 1st Mobile Company of the Civil Guard in 1961 would do the same the 2nd Company, this time to Santa Isabel. The last Spanish troops to leave Equatorial Guinea were the companies Santa Isabel and Bata, on board the transport of War "Castilla" and "Aragon" sailing to Las Palmas on April 19, 1969. Gone were 65 years of service and sacrifice in those distant African lands.
According to the 1995 Constitution, the Armed Forces of Equatorial Guinea are the Equatoguinean institution that is responsible for ensuring national defense, sovereignty, maintain order and territorial integrity. under Article 39 of the Constitution the supreme leader is the president of the Republic. The third title is the only chapter of the constitution of this country that refers to the functions and organization of this military institution.
Police generally are responsible for maintaining law and order in the cities, while gendarmes are responsible for security outside cities and for special events. Both entities report to the minister of national security. Military personnel, who report to the minister of defense, also fulfill police functions in border areas, sensitive sites, and high-traffic areas. Additional police elements are in the Ministries of Interior (border and traffic police), Finance (customs police), and Justice (investigative/prosecuting police). Presidential security officials also exercise police functions at or near presidential facilities. Police, gendarmes, and military personnel were ineffective and corrupt, and impunity was a problem. Security force members, who often were inebriated on the job, extorted money from citizens and foreigners at police checkpoints and routine traffic stops. The government did not maintain effective internal or external mechanisms to investigate security force abuses.
There is no government body that examines security force killings to evaluate whether they occurred in the line of duty or were otherwise justifiable. The Department of Human Rights held awareness training for police and gendarmes on trafficking in persons. The training emphasized humane treatment of immigrants and called for an end to their extortion. The military justice system, based entirely on the system in effect in Spain when Equatorial Guinea gained its independence in 1968, provided defendants with fewer procedural safeguards than in the criminal court system. The code of military justice states that persons who disobey a military authority or who are alleged to have committed an offense considered a “crime against the state” should be judged by a military tribunal, regardless of whether the defendant is civilian or military. A defendant may be tried without being present, and the defense does not have the right to cross-examine an accuser. Such proceedings were not public, and defendants had no right of appeal to a higher court.
The main private security company contracted by oil companies inside the country is owned and controlled by Army General Armengol Ondo Nguema, President Obiang’s brother and National Security Advisor. The former mercenary, Simon Mann, sentenced to 34 years and later pardoned by the putsch of March 2004 returned to Equatorial Guinea to work as security advisor Obiang. According to the London newspaper 'The Independent', Mann, 58, educated at the exclusive boys' school of Eton and former officer in the Special Air Service British (SAS), began his "first day" as security advisor since his release.
In 2005, the American consulting firm MPRI, Inc. was licensed to contract with the government to begin extensive training of the military and police forces. The primary purpose has been to professionalize security personnel, and a strong human rights and anti-trafficking provision was included in the curriculum. The program has been effective and was extended for another 5-year period.
In the area of internal security, France put a technical expert available to the government to organize training and restructuring of the national police. As part of an agreement signed in September 2011 and to equip and train six police and gendarmerie units, 22 French trainers visited Equatorial Guinea in early 2012 to train 750 agents Equato-Guineans to policing techniques in compliance with international standards. In the field of defense, in addition to training offered to Equato-Guineans officers in the French schools and regional vocation schools run by France in Africa, France has been inaugurated in 2010 at the request and on financing Equatoguinean government, the naval school with a regional scope of Bata. In the future Naval Academy TICA, the lessons will be taught by military officers Equatorial Guinea, with the support of French aid workers, whose expertise is appreciated and sought after.
Bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea were bolstered in 2004 when Zimbabwe intercepted mercenaries who were en route to Malabo to stage a coup d’état and eliminate President Mbasogo. Zimbabwe Defence Forces deployed military personnel to provide services at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. On 06 Novemer 2016 the Zimbabwe Defence Forces deployed a training contingent to the Equatorial Guinea to train the country’s military officers on operational and logistic matters following an urgent request by the West African country. The security personnel contingent, is composed of members of the Zimbabwe National Army and Air Force of Zimbabwe.
Equato-Guinean soldiers participating in the multi-national force in the Central African Republic were reported to have sexually exploited children. In April 2015 abuses committed between December 2013 and June 2014 by members of the French, Chadian, and Equatorial Guinean multi-national forces were made public, implicating them in allegations of sexual abuse of boys in the internally displaced camp near the M’Poko airport in the Central African Republic capital, Bangui. Although the government of France reportedly opened an investigation, the governments of neither Chad nor Equatorial Guinea, both of which had committed to investigating those allegations, had issued progress reports, findings, or conclusions by the end of 2015, and no soldiers had been held accountable.
Dozens of people were killed and hundreds wounded in a series of powerful explosions at a military base in Equatorial Guinea’s largest city of Bata 08 March 2021. The defence ministry said at least 20 people were killed and some 600 people injured. In a statement on national television, President Teodoro Obiang said the blasts were caused by negligence of a military unit “in charge of storing explosives, dynamite and ammunition at the Nkoa Ntoma military camp”. Obiang, who had ruled Equatorial Guinea since 1979, said the explosives caught fire due to “stubble-burning by farmers in their fields” and that the blasts caused damage in almost all the houses and buildings in Bata.
Local television showed groups of people pulling bodies from piles of rubble, some of which were carried away wrapped in bedsheets. There were also media appeals for people to donate blood, saying hospitals are overwhelmed. Pick-up trucks filled with survivors, many of whom were children, drove up to the front of a local hospital where some victims were filmed lying on the floor. In the blast area, iron roofs were ripped off half-destroyed houses and lay twisted amid the rubble. Only a wall or two remained of most houses. People ran in all directions, many of them screaming. “We hear the explosion and we see the smoke, but we don’t know what’s going on,” a local resident named Teodoro Nguema told the AFP news agency by telephone.
After the blast, the Spanish embassy in the capital, Malabo, requested its nationals to remain at home. “Following developments in Equatorial Guinea with concern after the explosions in the city of Bata,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya. Separately, the French ambassador in Equatorial Guinea, Brochenin Olivier, expressed his “condolences for the catastrophe that has just occurred in Bata”. William Lawrence, a former US diplomat and regional security officer in West Africa, called the incident “highly shocking” and said Equatorial Guinea was not ready for a disaster of this scale.
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