Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo's 33-year reign has proved detrimental for the citizens of Equatorial Guinea. Despite human rights abuses, in the 1996 and 2002 elections, he was reelected with an unbelievable 98 percent of the vote. But in 2009, he saw his popularity fall, being reelected with only 97 percent. His ignoble list of accomplishments include government kidnappings, unauthorized killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests. In an impressive act of chutzpah, in 2003, the president declared himself “the country’s God”—justifying his brutal acts against his citizens.
Despite Obiang's exorbitant personal wealth—estimated at $600 million—Equatorial Guinea remains extremely poor. It seems that despite his track record and brutal governance, Obiang is an avid supporter of the life sciences—evidenced by his financing and founding the UNESCO-Obiang Prize for life-science research. Many question why UNESCO, an organization that advocates for a variety of freedoms, would team up with Africa’s longest ruling dictator.