Equatorial Guinea’s 80-year-old President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is widely expected to win reelection, prolonging his 43-year grip on power.
The reelection of Obiang, the world’s longest-serving president, was marked by accusations of voting irregularities from his rivals.
The president has always gotten at least 90% of the vote, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
“What you sow is what you reap,” Obiang said after casting his ballot Sunday, Reuters reported.
Andres Esono, one of the only two candidates running against Obiang, told journalists that his party received complaints of intimidation and accused the president of committing electoral fraud.
“What he is doing is massive fraud, even worse than on previous occasions,” Esono said.
Obiang is virtually unopposed as 14 of Equatorial Guinea’s opposition parties coalesced with the ruling regime, the AP reported.
Professor Ana Lúcia Sá, who lectures about African politics and authoritarianism, told BBC News that despite the election, “nothing will change” in the country’s government as she expects Obiang to be reelected “with more than 95%” of the vote.
Sá explained that Obiang used poverty as his political weapon and crafted electoral laws to make sure he would never lose.
Over 400,000 people registered to vote for this year’s presidential election, which will also coincide with legislative and local elections.
Obiang became the leader of the small Central African nation in 1979 after a coup that overthrew his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema.
Human rights groups accused Obiang of torture, disappearances, intimidation and handing his opponents their death sentences.
Equatorial Guinea is noted for its rich oil and gas reserves, but 70% of its population remains poor, according to the European Overseas Development Institute.
Obiang’s critics accused him and his family of having a lavish lifestyle and enriching themselves using funds from state coffers.
Obiang’s son, Teodoro “Teodorin” Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is also the country’s vice president, became the embodiment of the family’s excesses because of his opulent lifestyle.
Last year, a French court upheld its guilty verdict in its embezzlement case against Teodorin, who reportedly owned a mansion in Paris worth $154 million.