4 July 2017

Swaziland: Swazi Police Praise African Despot

Swaziland Police have applauded King Mswati III, the kingdom's absolute monarch, for a deal he has done with Equatorial Guinea, a country with one of the worst human rights and corruption records in the world.

The Police also praised the Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for a joint training arrangement of police recruits between the two countries.

Royal Swaziland Police, which has its own poor human rights record will train 30 cadets from the country. This is the renewal of a deal that dates back to 2012.

This is even though police in Equatorial Guinea use 'excessive force and torture', according to a United States report on human rights in the country.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported (23 June 2017) Swaziland National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula saying, 'We thank His Majesty King Mswati III and His Excellency President Nguema Mbasogo for their wisdom in facilitating the sharing of centres and best practice in police for the global growth and development, as no country can possibly be self-sufficient.'

The newspaper added, 'He said the arrangement is characteristic of the wisdom and foresight of the two heads of state.'

Equatorial Guinea is nominally a multiparty constitutional republic but since a military coup in 1979, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has dominated all branches of government in collaboration with his clan and political party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), which he founded in 1991, according to a human rights report for 2016 published by the US State Department.

He received a claimed 93.7 percent of the vote in an election in 2016 that was considered neither free nor fair, the report stated.

It added, 'The most significant human rights problems in the country were disregard for rule of law, including police use of excessive force and torture, denial of freedom of speech, and widespread official corruption.'

Reviewing security force activities in 2016, the report said, 'Police, gendarmes, and military personnel were ineffective and corrupt, and impunity was a problem. Security force members, who often were inebriated on the job, extorted money from citizens and foreigners at police checkpoints and during routine traffic stops. The government did not maintain effective internal or external mechanisms to investigate security force abuses.'

It added, 'Police raids continued on immigrant communities, who make up 15 percent of the population. Reliable sources reported that police abused, extorted, or detained many legal as well as irregular immigrants during such raids. Police occasionally used excessive force to detain and deport immigrants.'

King Mswati has a long-standing relationship with Equatorial Guinea. In 2012 it was announced he had done a deal with the President of Equatorial Guinea to import crude oil into his kingdom. The oil would be refined into consumer products such as petrol, kerosene, asphalt and chemical reagents.

However, Swaziland had no oil refineries, and still does not.

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time Thembinkosi Mamba, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, saying the Swazi Government had plans to build its own refinery so that, in future, the crude oil would be brought directly to Swaziland for refinement and separation, thereby, cutting down on costs.

The King entertained the President of Equatorial Guinea to try to impress upon him that his kingdom was a place worth investing in.

In September 2011 the president's son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue visited Swaziland. While he stayed at five-star Royal Villas Resort he had his bag stolen - containing US$2.5 million in bank notes.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is now (June 2017) on trial in Paris, France, on charges of embezzlement of public funds and money laundering. CNN reported, (23 June 2017) 'Prosecutors say he's amassed a fortune, including an opulent mansion near the Champs-Elysees, along with Bugattis, Ferraris and an Aston Martin. He also allegedly spent millions of dollars on pricey European art and jewelry.

'He also owns a yacht named Ice, which reportedly costs about US$800,000 a month to maintain, according to an article in the French newspaper Le Monde.

'Obiang, 47, serves as his father's vice president and earns about US$100,000 a year in that role, according to his lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny.'

His lawyer told CNN, 'He is accused of money laundering for investing or spending funds in France that would come from offenses committed in Equatorial Guinea.'

CNN also reported 'In 2014, the United States agreed to a settlement following allegations that Obiang used money plundered from his country to amass assets such as a Malibu mansion, a private jet and Michael Jackson memorabilia.

'Under the settlement, the Justice Department allowed Obiang to keep a Gulfstream jet and most of his Michael Jackson collection, including the white glove from Jackson's "Bad" world tour. Those assets were not in the United States, the Justice Department said, but they could be subject to seizure if they ever come to the country.

'At the time, Obiang disputed the US allegations and said the assets, including a US$30 million Malibu mansion, were purchased with proceeds from his businesses. He admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

'As part of the settlement, Obiang had to sell the Malibu mansion, a Ferrari and pay US$20 million to a charity that benefits the people of Equatorial Guinea. Under the settlement, the US government kept about US$10 million.'

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