Francisco Macías Nguema
(1 January 1924 as Mez-m Ngueme
– September 29, 1979) was the first President
of Equatorial Guinea
, from 1968 until his overthrow in 1979.
Rise to Power
He rose to the position of mayor
under the Spanish
colonial government, and later served as a member of the territorial parliament. He was elected president in two rounds before independence in 1968. During his presidency, his country was nicknamed "the Dachau
of Africa" (Roberts, Adam. The Wonga Coup, page 21), and became notorious for political executions and virulent anti-Spanish radio speeches The country's pre-independence prime minister, Bonifacio Ondó Edu
, was starved and executed in prison shortly after Macías came to power. Other officials, including a former vice president, "committed suicide" while in detention.
Macías Nguema's violations of human rights during his reign caused more than a third of Equatorial Guinea's population to flee to other countries. Three important pillars of his rule were the United National Workers' Party (PUNT which he formed to replace the pre-independence parties), the Juventud en Marcha con Macías militia/youth group, and the Esangui clan of Río Muni. The country's instruments of repression (military, presidential bodyguard) were entirely controlled by Macías Nguema's relatives and clan members. The president's paranoid actions included banning use of the word "intellectual" and destroying boats (fishing was banned). He "Africanized" his name to Masie Nguema Biyogo Ñegue Ndong in 1976 after demanding that the rest of the Equatoguinean population do the same.
Macías Nguema had an extreme cult of personality, perhaps fueled by his consumption of copious amounts of bhang and iboga , and assigned himself titles such as the "Unique Miracle" and "Grand Master of Education, Science, and Culture". The island of Fernando Pó had its name 'africanized' after him to Masie Ngueme Biyogo Island; on his overthrow in 1979 it was named Bioko.
Expansion of Power
On May 7, 1971, Macias Nguema issued Decree 415, which repealed parts of the 1968 Constitution and granted him "all direct powers of Government and Institutions", including powers formerly held by the legislative and judiciary branches, as well as the cabinet of ministers. On October 18, 1971, Law 1 was issued which imposed the death penalty
as punishment for threatening the President or the government. Insulting or offending the President or his cabinet was punishable by 30 years in prison. On July 14, 1972, he declared himself President for Life
with Constitutional Decree 1. He completely repealed the 1968 Constitution on July 29, 1973, instituting a new Constitution that gave Macias Nguema and his party absolute power. Macias Nguema declared private education subversive, and banned it entirely with Decree 6 on March 18, 1975.
On August 3, 1979 he was overthrown by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
, who was previously the military governor of Bioko
and Vice-Minister of the Armed Forces. Macias Nguema and a contingent of loyal forces initially resisted the coup, but his forces eventually abandoned him, and he was captured in a forest on August 18.
Trial and Execution
The Supreme Military Council opened Case 1/979 on August 18, 1979, and began interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence against the Macias Nguema regime. The Council subsequently convened a military tribunal
on September 24 to try Macias Nguema and several members of his regime. The charges for the ten defendants
, mass murder
of public funds, violations of human rights
, and treason
The state prosecutor requested that Macias Nguema receive the death penalty, five others to receive thirty years in prison, and four others to receive a year in prison. Macias Nguema's defense council countered that the other co-defendants were responsible for specific crimes, and asked for acquittal. Macias Nguema himself delivered a statement to the court outlining what he viewed as the extensive good deeds he had performed for the country. At noon on September 29, 1979, the Tribunal delivered its sentences, which were more severe than what the prosecution had requested. Macias Nguema and six of his co-defendants were sentenced to death and the confiscation of their property. Two defendants were sentenced to fourteen years in prison, and two others to four years.
With no higher court available to hear appeals, the decision of the Special Military Tribunal was final. Macias Nguema and the six other defendants sentenced to death were executed by a Moroccan firing squad at Black Beach Prison at 6pm on the same day .
Today, Macías Nguema is regarded as one of the most kleptocratic, corrupt and dictatorial leaders in post-colonial African history. He has been compared to Pol Pot because of the violent, unpredictable, and anti-intellectual nature of both regimes.