Independence

It wasn't until 1959 that Spain granted Africans full citizenship. By that time, a nationalist movement was already well underway. Equatorial Guinea attained independence in October 1968 under the presidency of Macias Nguema. Several months after independence, relations with Spain deteriorated rapidly when it was discovered that Equatorial Guinea had almost no foreign currency reserves. The new government declared a state of emergency, setting the stage for a brutal, 10-year dictatorship. Thousands of people were tortured and executed, or beaten to death in the forced-labour camps of the mainland. Much of the violence was trib-ally motivated, and Bubis were particularly

targeted. By the time Nguema's regime was finally toppled in 1979, only a third of the 300,000 Guineans who lived there at independence still remained.

With the country in a mess and bankrupt, even Nguema's closest colleagues began to suspect that he was insane. In August 1979, Nguema was toppled by his nephew, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who had his uncle executed a month later. Obiang continues to rule to this day, and has carried on human-rights abuses.

In 2004 Sir Mark Thatcher, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's son, was arrested for helping to plan an alleged plot to overthrow Obiang and take over the oil-rich nation. Though he got off with a fine, South African mercenaries accused of taking part in the conspiracy have been imprisoned in the country ever since.

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