Sahara Reporters has learned today that former President John Kufuor of Ghana has decided to attend the controversial Sullivan Summit on Africa billed to take place in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea later this month.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Kufour’s aide, Frank Agyekum, confirmed to SaharaReporters that the former Ghanaian leader would proceed with earlier plans to travel to Equatorial Guinea to act as Chairman the Leon H. Sullivan “Africa Rising” Summit. The summit, which will take place from August 20-24, 2012, is filled with galas and fancy dinners.
The Summit has been embroiled in international controversy arising from the fact that it is being hosted by Teodoro Obiang, Equatorial Guinea’s highly corrupt and brutal dictator. Mr. Obiang has been in power for more than 30 years, and currently has the dubious distinction of Africa’s longest sitting president. Local and international critics say he and close members of his family have amassed fortunes that surpass 600 million dollars, all of it looted from the Equatorial Guinea’s oil earnings. Mr. Obiang’s son, Teodorin Obiang Mangue, lives an opulent lifestyle as an international playboy. He owns mansions and penthouses in several European and North American cities – to go with an insatiable appetite for expensive cars, choice wines, spirits, a line of specially designed clothes, and the company of women.
Mr. Agyekum stated that former President Kufuor would try to use the 4-day summit to persuade Mr. Obiang to change his ways and embrace constitutional reforms in Equatorial Guinea.
The Sullivan Foundation has come under fire for hosting the lavish summit at a luxurious facility complete with golf courses, spas and five star hotels, even as the vast majority of Equatorial Guinea’s citizens live in abject and squalid conditions, with no access to clean water or electricity.
Earlier this week, George Ayittey, a US-based Ghanaian economist, stated that he had managed to convince Mr. Kufuor to withdraw from the summit.
Numerous human rights groups have lobbied invited VIPs to withdraw from the Summit and to reject gifts and honoraria offered by Mr. Obiang.
Mr. Obiang has enlisted the help of the Sullivan Foundation to help promote a positive image of his corrupt, despotic regime. The Sullivan Foundation has reportedly recruited several journalists and delegates to attend the Summit and ensure that only good stories are written.
The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Community to Protect Journalists, and Amnesty International have listed Equatorial Guinea as one of the world’s most impoverished countries with a deplorable human rights climate.
Speaking yesterday to reporters from Equatorial Guinea, Aly Ramji, a spokesman for the Sullivan Foundation, outlandishly asserted that “There is no misery and poverty here,” adding that the Sullivan Summit would “project the true image of [the country] to the international community where any activity can be exercised freely.”
Ramji’s glowing assessment of Equatorial Guinea came on the heels of a recent Human Rights Watch alert that drew attention to the Obiang regime’s unwarranted arrest and detention of Florentino Manguire Eneme Ovina. Mr. Ovina, a former business associate of Mr. Obiang’s son, Teodorin Obiang Mangue, has been jailed on suspicion of revealing secrets of Mangue’s corrupt business practices in the foresting sector. Mr. Ovina, who is been held without charges or a warrant, once spent two years in jail, again with no warrant or charges, except for his “perceived disloyalty” to Mr. Obiang.
The Sullivan Foundation may have deeper financial reasons for courting the friendship of Mr. Obiang whose generosity to foreign interests is legendary. According to 2010 financial reports by Guidestar, the Foundation's revenue totaled only $2,058,671 against expenses that stood at $2,813,551. Previous financial reports indicate that a huge chunk of the Foundation's funds is spent on its Summits as well as “meetings and events.”