'No rights violations in E Guinea'

2011-06-06 09:59

Malabo - There are no human rights violations in Equatorial Guinea, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema insisted Sunday in a speech here to mark his 69th birthday.

"Why are we accused of violating human rights?," the veteran leader, in power since 1979, asked as he addressed a crowd of well-wishers in Malabo stadium.

"There are no violations of human rights," he said, noting that he had just signed an agreement with the International Committee of the Red Cross to monitor the country's human rights record.

And he denounced as "irrational" the decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) last October to suspend a prize he sponsored.

"The hypocrisy of those who do not like us led to the suspension of this prize. It was a gift of money to fund scientific research to discover cures for deadly diseases such as cancer, Aids, tuberculosis and others."

Human rights and anti-poverty campaigners had put pressure on Unesco not to lend its support to a prize named after a man they consider a corrupt dictator.

Obiang, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea with an iron grip since seizing power in a 1979 coup, had offered funding of three million dollars over five years.

Last January, he was appointed the African Union's new chairperson at a summit in Addis Ababa.