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THE INTERVIEW

An interview with a French or international personality from the world of economics, politics, culture or diplomacy. Every Wednesday at 4.45 pm Paris time and Saturday at 7.45 am.

Latest update : 2018-01-18

'Equatorial Guinea's attempted coup began in France,' says President Obiang

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 and RFI, Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema spoke out for the first time about the recent alleged attempt to overthrow him. Speaking in the capital Malabo, he also reacted to last year's conviction in absentia of his son, Teodorin Obiang, in the high-profile "ill-gotten gains" corruption trial in France.

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 and RFI, Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema discussed the recent alleged coup attempt against him. At the end of December, the government claimed to have foiled a "coup", after some 30 gunmen were arrested across the border in Cameroon. Obiang, who has run Equatorial Guinea since 1979, claims "a group of terrorists" were recruited in Chad, the Central African Republic and Sudan.

He also accused "individuals" from France of financing the coup bid. Obiang asked the French government to cooperate with the probe in Equatorial Guinea to find the culprits.

President Obiang also addressed alleged human rights violations at home. He promised an investigation into the death of Santiago Ebee Ela, a 41-year-old activist arrested on January 2, who died shortly afterwards in a police station. While the opposition believes the activist was tortured, President Obiang says he was simply "sick".

'Imperialistic justice'

Obiang went on to criticise the suspended sentence and fine handed down to his son Teodorin Obiang by a French court last October in the so-called "ill-gotten gains" corruption case. The president called the verdict "imperialistic justice", saying it did not respect international law. However, he stressed that relations between Equatorial Guinea and France were "good" and revealed he has "exchanged messages" with President Emmanuel Macron.

Finally, Obiang condemned US President Donald Trump's alleged crude remarks about Haiti and African countries as "racist".

By Marc PERELMAN

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