By Lucky Gold, CNN
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the world’s longest-serving leader, says that allegations of massive corruption within his own family are “all the work or our enemies.”
The governments of the United States and France are investigating Obiang’s son, Teodorin, for corruption, extortion and money-laundering that includes multi-million dollar mansions, Maseratis and Michael Jackson memorabilia. But Obiang, who has held power in the African nation of Equitorial Guinea since 1979, defended his son, who is also Vice President: “First of all, my son, even before he became a politician, he’s always been a businessman. He has his own private business activities.”
Appearing Monday on Amanpour, he added, “There are no signs or any proof that he had actually embezzled any government property or government money. The moment he became a minister, he contributed a great deal into the coffers of the government’s administration.”
Those government coffers were vastly enriched when oil was discovered more than a decade ago, bringing billions of dollars to the tiny nation with a population of only seven hundred thousand. Yet, with a per capita income to rival Great Britain, persists and one in eight children die before the age of five - while President Obiang’s personal wealth has been estimated at six hundred million dollars.
“The critics who are saying these things cannot show that I have so much money in my account,” said Obiang. “And just what accounts are they referring to? I don’t have any special or private accounts. All this is false. It’s completely invented.”
As for his future in office, Obiang himself introduced a constitutional reform that mandated a maximum of two seven-year terms. Following that requirement, he would end his term by 2016. However, he refused to say that he would adhere to his own mandate: “It’s not me. It’s the people. The people decide.”
When asked if he might remain in power forever, Obiang reiterated: “I am not the one. It is the people.”