Equatorial Guinean president eyes new term in poll
Voting began in Equatorial Guinea on Sunday in a poll expected to hand President Teodoro Obiang Nguema a new mandate to rule the oil-producing central African nation, Reuters reported.
Critics say the election lacks credibility, pointing to the lack of any real rival to Obiang -- who has been in power since a 1979 palace coup -- and the failure to make voter lists public.
Some predict the 67-year-old ruler could even better his resounding 97.1 percent poll score in 2002, when rivals pulled out complaining of harassment.
"There is no credible opposition to speak of," said IHS Global Insight analyst Kissy Agyeman-Togobo. "Obiang is assured victory, perhaps even increasing upon his 2002 win."
The capital Malabo was calm this week ahead of the vote, residents there said. Traffic was restricted by ministerial order and police and soldiers guarded main roads and shops.
Voting is due to end around 6 p.m. (12 p.m. EST). There may be some projections of the outcome on Sunday but it is not clear when official results will emerge.
While there are growing concerns over human rights in the country of some 650,000, Obiang's drive to turn Equatorial Guinea into a major energy player has met with some success.
Long a magnet for U.S. oil companies, the country has secured deals with Germany's E.ON Ruhrgas, Spain's Union Fenosa and Portugal's Galp Energia as part of its plans to become a regional gas hub too.