Skip to comments.Exiled Equatorial Guinea leader Severo Moto vanishes - reports
Posted on 04/20/2005 3:48:31 AM PDT by HAL9000
MADRID, April 20 (Reuters) - Exiled Equatorial Guinean politician Severo Moto, who lives in Spain, has disappeared and Spanish authorities are concerned he may have been killed, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Wednesday.
Moto is the leader of a self-styled government in exile and a sworn enemy of Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has accused Moto of being behind a coup attempt in the tiny central African country last year.
El Pais and another newspaper, El Mundo, both reported Moto had travelled from Spain to Croatia twice in March, and that since his second trip to Zagreb on March 19 there has been no sign of him.
El Pais quoted a Foreign Ministry source as saying that the Spanish government was "increasingly convinced that he (Moto) has been killed".
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "The ministry is aware of rumours that Severo Moto has disappeared and is trying to ascertain whether the reports are correct."
Armengol Engonga, a member of Moto's government-in-exile, said he had received a telephone call from Moto eight days ago, according to the Web site of Asodegue, an association grouping exiled opponents to Obiang's government.
Engonga said nothing in his conversation with Moto led him to believe anything was amiss, according to the Web site.
One of Moto's close aides, who did not wish to be named, called the newspaper reports "rumours" and declined to give any information about Moto's whereabouts.
"We've been denouncing for a long time the threats posed not only to the Guinean people but also to exiles by the Obiang regime. Anything we say can put us in danger," he said.
A former Spanish colony split between a mountainous jungle mainland and volcanic islands in the Gulf of Guinea, Equatorial Guinea has been ruled since 1979 by Obiang, who seized power in a coup. It is sub-Saharan Africa's third-biggest oil producer.
Human rights groups accuse Obiang's government of widespread abuses and many foreign critics say it has pocketed much of the country's oil wealth. Obiang and his ministers deny both charges.
Equatorial Guinea convicted 13 people last November of plotting to kill Obiang and replace him with Moto, in a trial Amnesty International said was "grossly unfair".
Moto told Reuters last August, when the trial began, he knew nothing of the planned coup but said it would be legitimate to oust Obiang by force.
No great loss. Which one's worse and which one's worser is a coin toss..