The release of all political prisoners at the end of March
was enshrined in the National Democratic Pact, which the
government signed monthly with the Common Opposition
Platform - a coalition of 10 legal political parties formed
in November 1992.
At the end of 1993, parliamentary elections were held,
the legitimacy of which was questioned by international
observers. According to
the ruling party got 68 out of 80 parliament seats. After
Spain expelled its consul from the city of Bata in January
1994, the country halved its assistance to Equatorial
In March 1995, the leader of the opposition party
Progressive Party, Severo Moto, was sentenced to 2½ years in
prison for bribing a police officer and injuring Obiang's
"reputation". In April, Moto was again sentenced, this time
to 28 years in prison for treason and conspiracy. The
verdict was condemned by Western countries - especially
In July, several members of the Bioko Movement for
Self-Determination (Movimiento para la Autodeterminación de
Bioko) were arrested. Bioko is one of the islands belonging
to Equatorial Guinea. In a climate of accusations of
arbitrary arrests and torture, the government proclaimed
presidential elections in early 1996. In February - shortly
before the election - the government disbanded the
opposition's Common Platform and detained several of its
members. The February 25 election was won by Obiang with 99%
of the vote. The opposition characterized it as a "farce".
The human rights organization Amnesty International has
received numerous reports of detention for political
reasons, torture and murder - clergy and soldiers accused of
conspiring against the government.
In January 1998, security forces detained hundreds of
members of the Bubi people living on the island of Bioko.
They were accused of attacking military installations and of
belonging to Bioko's Movement for Self-Determination.
According to Amnesty International, they were detained
solely because of their ethnic affiliation.
Obiang's Prime Minister, Angel Serafín Seriche Dougan,
resigned as predicted at the start of his term, and the
President formed a new government in early 1998. In
September 1999, the Secretary-General of the opposition
party Convergencia para la Democracia Social (CPDS)
was arrested. He was later released but placed under
surveillance and accused of conspiring against the
In March 2000, Amnesty International criticized that at
least 50 of the bubi prisoners on Bioko Island in
Malabo had been dispatched with unknown destination.
According to the human rights organization, steps were taken
to harm the prisoners physically and mentally.
Per capita income increased from US $ 370 to US $ 2,000
in the period 1995-2000, but growth has not led to a more
even distribution of income. Nevertheless, the development
has resulted in qualitative improvements in health and
education in particular.
In 2001, natural gas was discovered in the underground
and this led to enhanced economic growth. The majority of
local investment has been in construction, which has
attracted other sectors and thus contributed to the economic
development of poorer sectors as well.