Civil society in authoritarian regimes: the case of Equatorial Guinea

Since colonial times, Equatorial Guinea has a long history of autocracy. The Spanish colonial regime was authoritarian and, after the independence, in 1968, Francisco Macías Nguema inaugurated the first Nguemist dictatorship. Since the 1979 coup d’état, Teodoro Obiang Nguema has been the head of what is known as the second Nguemist dictatorship. The colonial and postcolonial authoritarian regimes asphyxiated civil society, especially regarding individuals and groups that sought political participation. Nonetheless, the country’s political history is also made by “possible transitional periods”. They are possible and not actual transitional periods because democracy never superseded the authoritarian regime, but were felt by civil society actors as opportunities to change. In my paper I do a historical comparative analysis of three moments that could predict a regime change: 1931 (transition from the Bourbon Restoration to the Second Republic), 1979 (transition from the first to the second Nguemism) and 1991 (transition from the single-party system to the multi-party system). I also consider the independence context, in 1968, a hinge moment between the colonial and the post-colonial forms of authoritarianism. The objects of my analysis are the instruments and discourses used by excluded individuals and groups who had the goal of participating in the political reforms and ultimately change the regime. In addition to identifying and characterising these groups both socially and politically, I will also take an in-depth look to the characteristics of the authoritarianisms where these individuals and groups acted.


Ana Lúcia Sá . CEI-IUL .

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