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Oil-Rich Equatorial Guinea to Hold Legislative Elections May 26

Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil producer, will hold legislative and municipal elections on May 26, according to the government’s website.

Voters will for the first time elect 55 members of a 70-seat Senate established under a revised constitution. The remaining 15 senators will be appointed directly by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Africa’s longest-serving ruler.

Crude accounts for more than 90 percent of government revenue in Equatorial Guinea, while U.S. oil companies including ExxonMobil Corp. and Hess Corp. are the biggest investors in the Spanish-speaking nation, according to the U.S. State Department.

The ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea, known by its Spanish acronym PDGE, together with three small, allied parties won the last legislative elections in 2008 with 99 out of 100 seats.

Human rights groups including London-based Amnesty International and New York-based Human Rights Watch said earlier this month that campaigning had been marred by harassment of the opposition, reports of voter intimidation and the denial of free speech to political groups.

The secretary-general of the PDGE, Lucas Nguema Esono, said yesterday that preparations for the vote had been “carried out in a good atmosphere” and there had been no incidents, according to website. The African Union has sent 40 observers to monitor the vote, it said.

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