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Forum Macao to decide Equatorial Guinea membership in October

The west African republic’s oil wealth makes it an obvious candidate for the Portuguese-speaking forum, but a large question mark hangs over its human rights record.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:44 am

Equatorial Guinea, which has been a member of the Portuguese-speaking countries community since 2014, will only find out if it can join Forum Macao in October.

Following a meeting attended by representatives from Angola, China, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Guiné-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Principe and Timor-Leste, the Portuguese ambassador to Beijing, José Augusto Duarte, said that the diplomats had been advised to analyse the situation before deciding whether to accept Equatorial Guinea at next autumn’s meeting of Forum Macao. 

Augusto Duarte said that the question of human rights in the west African republic was not discussed at the meeting but agreed that it is a relevant aspect to be considered “but not in the present context of the Equatorial Guinea request to join the organisation”, according to a report by Macau television.

Camilo Afana, a diplomat from Equatorial Guinea’s embassy in Beijing, said that his country is keen to join Forum Macao and suggested that human rights should not be an excuse to disbar it as there had been improvements in that area.

“Equatorial Guinea is fulfilling all conditions that have been put forward to allow the country to join the organisation. We can’t talk anymore about the death sentence y because it has been abolished in Equatorial Guinea,” the diplomat said.

The country’s president, Teodoro Obiang, who has been in power since 1979, has campaigned to join Forum Macao for the past two years.

Since the mid-1990s, the former Spanish colony has become one of sub-Sahara’s biggest oil producers but a large proportion of the population still lives in poverty.

Equatorial Guinea is the only African nation to have Spanish as an official language.

Spain colonised the country on two separate occasions: first between 1778–1810 and then from 1844–1968. Equatorial Guinea became independent in 1968.

Due to Spain’s long historical influence, Spanish has remained an important language. However, the country also uses French and Portuguese as its official languages.

China has not appointed a new Secretary-General of the Forum since Xu Yingzhen left to become ambassador in São Tomé and Principe in September 2020.

Since her departure, Deputy Secretary-General Ding Tian has been in charge.

Forum Macao is a multilateral, intergovernmental cooperation mechanism, based in Macao, aimed at promoting economic, trade and cultural exchanges between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, by using Macao as a platform.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:44 am

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