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Following a November 2014 national dialogue with both recognized and unrecognized political parties, the government agreed to facilitate multiparty politics by relaxing existing rules for creating and registering parties, among other changes.Several laws were consequently enacted during 2015, and at least two new parties were reportedly registered, but it remained unclear whether the reforms would have a substantial effect on the environment for the 2016 presidential election.President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo reshuffled his cabinet in April 2015.While he said the changes were meant to punish corrupt behavior and ensure implementation of austerity measures amid low oil prices, the move was seen by some observers as part of an ongoing effort to reduce the threat of a palace coup.
Three individuals were arrested for distributing or possessing leaflets calling for a boycott of the event, but they were later released under international pressure. Electoral Process: 0 / 12 President Obiang, Africa’s longest-serving head of state and the leader of Equatorial Guinea since 1979, maintains an absolute grip on political and economic power in the country.Fifteen senators are appointed by the president and five are ex officio members.Parliamentary and municipal elections were held in 2013.The country was delisted from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in 2010, having failed to meet the requirements for validation. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 4 / 16 Press freedom is severely limited, despite constitutional protections.Journalists consistently exercise self-censorship, and those who do criticize the president, his family, or the security forces face dismissal and other reprisals.
The websites of opposition parties and exile groups, along with Facebook, were blocked, presumably by the government, ahead of the 2013 elections. The handful of private newspapers and magazines in operation face intense financial and political pressure and are unable to publish regularly.