Equatorial Guinea dissident Obama Mefuman dies in prison

Julio Obama Mefuman was serving a 60-year jail term after being taken from South Sudan in a suspected kidnapping.

Equatorial Guinea map

A prominent dissident in Equatorial Guinea has died in prison while serving a 60-year jail sentence, his group said.

Julio Obama Mefuman, 51, who was also a Spanish citizen and was taken from South Sudan in a suspected kidnapping in 2019, “died in Oveng Azem prison” in the eastern city of Mongomo, the MLGE3R movement said.

It gave no date for Obama Mefuman’s death but accused the country’s hardline government of “torture”.

MLGE3R stands for the Movement for the Liberation of the Third Equatorial Guinea and is based in Spain, the central African state’s former coloniser.

On Monday, Equatorial Guinea’s foreign minister Simeon Oyono Esono Angue said Obama Mefuman “died in a Mongomo hospital following illness” but refuted any accusation of torture.

A spokesman for the Spanish foreign ministry confirmed the death but declined to give details.

Calls for inquiry

Andres Esono Ondo, head of the Convergence for Social Democracy, Equatorial Guinea’s only authorised opposition party, published a tweet in which he condemned “Julio Obama’s death in prison”. He called for an international inquiry “to clarify what happened and ensure that all prisoners have the right to family visits”.

Ondo took part in presidential elections last November in which 80-year-old President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was credited with 94.9 percent of the vote.

Amnesty International urged President Obiang to “ensure an independent and urgent investigation” is opened into Obama Mefuman’s death.

Obama Mefuman’s death came less than two weeks after Spain’s High Court announced an investigation into his suspected kidnapping and torture and that of a second dissident, Feliciano Efa Mangue, who also has Spanish citizenship.

A judicial source said the two, along with two Equatorial Guinea nationals who reside in Spain, were seized in South Sudan in late 2019 and flown to Equatorial Guinea.

In March 2020, Mangue was handed a 90-year term and Obama Mefuman 60 years for allegedly having taken part in an attempted coup against Obiang in 2017.

Source: AFP