EGuinea opposition figure freed after Chad arrest
An Equatorial Guinean opposition leader who was arrested in Chad this month amid accusations he was plotting a coup was released on Wednesday and is flying home, police and political allies said.
Andres Esono Ondo, leader of the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), was detained on April 11 while attending a congress of Chad's main opposition party, the UNDR.
The government in Equatorial Guinea accused him of seeking to acquire weapons and recruit "terrorists" to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, "using foreign money".
The CPDS said his arrest was a "groundless abduction by the Chadian authorities".
A police officer, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said, "We have released the Equatorial Guinean opposition figure, and he has decided to fly home to Malabo.
"He took the flight this morning to Douala," in western Cameroon, the source said.
This account was confirmed by the UNDR, the National Union for Democracy and Renewal.
"Andres was released and was dropped off at the airport for a flight via Douala at 7.50am. He chose to return home rather than be in exile," UNDR president Saleh Kebazabo told AFP.
Esono Ondo and Kebazabo were arrested in the Guera region, 500 kilometres (310 miles) from the Chadian capital.
The dissident leader had been falsely accused in 2015 of hiring someone infected with the Ebola virus and of trying to bring them into Equatorial Guinea as the country was hosting part of the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.
He was released after the allegations were found to be an invention by figures close to the regime.
Obiang Nguema, 76, is Africa's longest-serving leader alive today.
He seized power in the former Spanish colony in 1979 and has ruled with an iron fist ever since, thwarting a string of attempted coups and cracking down ruthlessly on opponents and suspected plotters.
On March 15, human rights activist Alfredo Okenve was arrested as he arrived in Malabo to receive an award for his work from the French and German ambassadors.
Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa's top oil producers but the bulk of the 1.2 million population lives in poverty, and the country has an entrenched reputation for corruption.
It ranks 141st out of 189 countries on the UN's 2018 Human Development Index, and 172nd out of 180 on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.