Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Equatorial Guinea

President Thabo Mbeki said on Thursday Equatorial Guinea had asked him for help in the trial of suspected coup plotters during a midnight meeting in Pretoria.

Who is behind the coup, and who is bankrolling the operation?

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has blamed Britain, the United States and Spain. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea claims the coup was funded by enemy powers and multinational corporations. More specifically he points a finger at Severo Moto Nsa. Mugabe is difficult to take seriously, he has made wild accusations of this sort before, and is always on the lookout for a chance to blame western powers for trying to recolonise Africa. There are constant referals by the Mugabe regime in the state-run media to "white, imperialist, British plots to destabilize Africa."
Teodoro Obiang's accusations however, may have more of a ring of the truth to them. Severo Moto Nsa, is a dissident politician, head of Equatorial Guinea's opposition Progress Party. He leads a self-styled "government in exile" in Spain. Moto, tried previously to mount a coup against Obiang in 1997 from Angola. Moto has a website, it's in Spanish, but there is an English translation, it's not the best, but is understandable. One of the suspected mercenaries arrested in Equatorial Guinea confessed to acting for Ely Calil, a Lebanese businessman close to Severo Moto. Calil is also alleged to have links to Logo Logistics, the private security company that chartered the plane that was impounded in Zimbabwe. Logo Logistics has also admitted now to having in their employ the 15 mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea. In 2002 a judicial inquiry in Paris heard that French oil multinational Elf Aquitaine channeled some US$190 million in 1995 to General Sani Abacha, who was then dictator of Nigeria. The money was paid to secure drilling rights. Philippe Jaffre, who was then chief executive officer of Elf Aquitaine, confirmed the payments during questioning by the prosecution. During questioning Jaffre also disclosed that "some intermediaries apparently received more money than foreseen". These were named by prosecutors as Gilbert Chagoury and Ely Calil, two Nigerian businessmen close to Abacha, and a Lebanese intermediary, Samir Traboulsi. The middlemen are said to have taken $70 million between them.
Patrick Smith, the editor of Africa Confidential magazine, says that military sources in South Africa claim that Severo Moto had a series of discussions with the Spanish Prime Minister Aznar, with a view to getting recognition, were he to succeed in overthrowing the Obiang government.

Perhaps Moto was behind the coup with the financial help of Ely Calil and other interested parties. Multinational oil companies have been implicated in the past in providing weapons in civil conflict in developing countries.