Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu Supports Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang`s Five-Point Program of Transparency, Political, Legal, and Economic Reform, Announced at Global Forum in Cape Town, South Africa On June 28, 201
Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:51am EDT
President Obiang Responds Reaffirming Commitment to Reform Program Announced in Cape Town, Including Return of International Red Cross to Assist on Human Rights, U.S. Aid to Assist on Social Development Fund, and African Union Panel To Advise on Independent Judiciary WASHINGTON--(Business Wire)-- The Washington D.C. Embassy of the government of Equatorial Guinea today released a previously unpublished letter from Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, written in August 2010 to President Obaing Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, in which Archbishop Tutu wrote that he was "encouraged an impressed" with President Obiang`s June 28, speech committing to broad governmental reforms before the Global Forum in Cape Town, South America. In that speech, before the world`s media, and civic and business leaders, President Obiang publicly committed that his nation would continue and expand upon a detailed "five-point program of transparency and political, legal and economic reform." "I was encouraged and impressed by your speech and your willingness to make these public commitments in front of the world`s media and to respond - before, during, and after our speech - to the media`s questions," Archbishop Tutu wrote. President Obiang responded on September 15, 2010, in a personal letter to Archbishop Tutu, committing to: * Completing negotiations for the return of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who would be involved in "evaluating and monitoring human rights and prison conditions in my country;" * Inviting the assistance of the U.S. State Department, through the Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, to provide "independent professional administration for EG`s Social Development Fund for the benefit of the Equatorial Guinea people;" and * Asking the African Union to establish a "Special Advisory Committee" to advise Equatorial Guinea on judicial reform and to work with the Minister of Justice "to make recommendations to strengthen an independent judiciary in our country." In his August letter to President Obiang, Archbishop Tutu acknowledged that the President would face difficulties in "undertak[ing] a plan of this magnitude when you are still in the process of creating a basic infrastructure for your country." He added that he hoped President Obiang could move forward "as soon as possible" on fulfilling the commitments he made publicly in his June 28 Cape Town speech, including "protecting human rights and democratic institutions, such as a free an independent press, strong and viable opposition parties, and an independent judiciary," including the rights to due process and the right to appeal verdicts. The Archbishop also expressed his support for President Obiang`s "continued commitment to the Social Development fund, to use your energy revenues for the people and children and education and housing. I noted in your speech you itemized over $1 billion of such spending in the last year alone." Archbishop Tutu promised to "publicly endorse specific developments in your transparency and reform program if and when implemented" and to "encourage the leading international human rights, democracy and transparency NGOs to accept your invitation in your Cape Town speech to visit your country, see the situation on the ground, and to study what is happening there." He added: "I hope and trust that human rights organizations will extend a hand to help you in the process of reform." In President Obiang`s letter to Archbishop Tutu, Mr. Obiang acknowledged that "the simple endowment of infrastructure is not sufficient to reach the success we desire. It is therefore essential to have qualified and experienced people who are capable of transforming into reality the noble objectives contained in my Cape Town speech. We also need to be able to count on the support of individuals and prestigious international institutions that believe in our determination to develop a modern nation." Archbishop Tutu, who won a Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his anti-apartheid leadership in South Africa as well as his work for the oppressed and for human rights, concluded: "I hope I may be able to visit your country sometime in the future. God bless you." Archbishop Tutu was also awarded the Albert Schweitzer Price for Humanitarianism in 1986, the Gandhi Peace Price in 2005, and the President Medal of Freedom in 2009. Copies of Archbishop Tutu`s letter and President Obiang`s response are attached to this release. This material is distributed by Lanny J. Davis & Associates, LLC on behalf of the Government of Equatorial Guinea.Additional information is available at the U.S. Department of Justice.