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Equatorial Guinea opposition leader under house arrest

Malabo, Equatorial Guinea | AFP |

An opposition politician said Tuesday that police have barred him and 200 of his supporters from leaving his residence in the capital Malabo after an army assault on the property.

“I am in prison in my own residence, there are more than 200 activists here with me and we cannot leave,” Gabriel Nse Obiang Obono told AFP, adding that they have been stuck in the building since Friday.

The army and police had launched an assault on Obono’s house in southern Malabo on Thursday night, using live ammunition against supporters of his Citizens for Change (CI) party, the opposition and local residents said.

Six CI supporters were seriously injured and are still in hospital, according to the same sources.

The property was still surrounded by armed police and troops on Tuesday, an AFP reporter said. Police roadblocks were controlling access to the residence.

Obono had sought to run in last Sunday’s presidential elections against Africa’s longest-serving leader, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, but was barred because he had lived abroad in the past five years.

Obiang, who has ruled the tiny oil-rich nation with an iron fist since 1979, is almost certain to win after returning to office at the last election in 2009 with 95.37 percent of the vote.

Obono also said around 15 CI supporters had been detained in the port city of Bata.

“I do not know what will happen to them,” he said, adding that he fears for his life.

The government, which gave no comment on the assault against Obono’s residence, confirmed the arrests in Bata, saying the activists were arrested for storming onto the tarmac at the airport during the arrival of a plane carrying a CI delegation.

Obono dismissed this account as categorically untrue.

Obiang’s regime has frequently come under fire from human rights groups for suppressing dissident voices and the media, as well as for widespread corruption.

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