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Equatorial Guinea president pledges reforms

By the CNN Wire Staff
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was re-elected in 2009 in a vote that human rights groups criticized as unfair.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was re-elected in 2009 in a vote that human rights groups criticized as unfair.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President wants to ensure peace, political stability and transparency
  • 'We must remember that Equatorial Guinea is relatively young,' he says
  • He seized power in a 1979 coup, was re-elected in November
  • Nation ranked among most corrupt worldwide
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Cape Town, South Africa(CNN) -- The president of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea pledged a series of reforms Monday, saying he wants to ensure peace, political stability and transparency in the central African nation, ranked among the world's most corrupt.

"However," President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said, "we must remember that Equatorial Guinea is a relatively young nation, inexperienced and, just like a ship, our comprehensive program of reforms will take some time to turn us around, in time for what is called Horizon 2020."

Obiang, who seized power in a 1979 coup, was re-elected in November in a vote that human rights groups criticized as unfair.

Obiang won with 96.7 percent of the vote. The government said at the time that the elections unfolded "in an atmosphere of tranquility and peace."

Human Rights Watch, however, said after the election that conditions in the country "cast serious doubt about the credibility" of the vote.

"In recent weeks, (the government of Equatorial Guinea) has stifled and harassed the country's beleaguered political opposition, denied the opposition equal access to the media, imposed serious constraints on international observers and failed to set out clear terms to allow journalists to monitor the election," the organization said in a statement.

Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization that examines corruption worldwide, has ranked Equatorial Guinea as among the world's most corrupt countries.

Obiang, speaking Monday at the Fortune/TIME/CNN Global Forum, said his nation would improve in rational use of resources, social sector development, legal institutions, relations with human rights organizations and environmental conservation.