Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - An African rights body Sunday expressed indignation after Equatorial Guinea President Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo assumed the Chairmanship of the African Union (AU) at the 16th ordinary summit of the continental organisation.
The African Rally of the Defence of Human Rights, known by its acronym as RADDHO, claimed that the choice of Nguema Mbasogo "will seriously damage the image of the African continent and the debate planned by the AU on democratic values will lack credibility."
Known internationally as a dictator, RADDHO said, UNESCO was obliged to reject the prize offered by Nguema to that organisation, mainly because of "the catastrophic human rights record of Equatorial Guinea''.
According to the rights body, Equatorial Guinea is notorious for its systematic torture of political opponents and violation of human rights, with the opposition completely muzzled. Also, it neither has independent media nor space for civil society organisations.
"More serious are the bribery cases which have corrupted the political elite, who benefit from oil revenues while the majority of the population is languishing in misery," RADDHO said in a press statement issued by its chairman, Alioune Tine.
According to RADDHO, governance in the country is completely opposed to the values and principles promoted by the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights as well as the Constitutive Act of the AU.
"This unfortunate choice [of Nguema Mbasogo] ignores the deep aspiration and determination of African people, greatly mobilised to fight for their dignity, the promotion of liberty and fundamental human rights like the case now in Tunisia and Egypt.
"It is now time that heads of state in Africa understand that the dawn of dictators is over in Africa," the statement added.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 30Jan2011