’Petroleum lures dogs of war to Africa’
’Petroleum lures dogs of war to Africa’
By Beauregard Tromp
The petroleum wealth of Africa is the new honey that attracts the foreign bees to our home.
These words by the man who has been in power in Equatorial Guinea for the past 25 years describe the mercenary operations in Africa which are being likened to terrorism.
The trial of 18 alleged mercenaries is expected to be wrapped up in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, soon, but who was really behind the coup plan is not at all clear.
Fingers are increasingly being pointed at the government of Spain.
With Equatorial Guinea President Teodore Obiang Nguema’s financial interests under investigation in the US, most of the family accounts frozen, and the president’s health under scrutiny, Western powers have become jittery about the stability of the country’s oil industry.
The west African nation has the fastest-growing economy in the world, but most of its population lives in poverty. To date, the US government has frozen more than $600 million in Nguema’s Riggs Bank account in Washington.
The possible successors to Nguema are his feared half-brother and National Security Chief Armengol Nguema and the president’s son, forestry minister Teodorin.
Nguema claims the final phase of the alleged coup for which the 18 were arrested was to have come from Spain.
"The third phase of the operation consisted of the military support which was meant to come from Spain through the warships which, at that very moment, were already stationed in the territorial waters of Equatorial Guinea under the pretext of defending the legitimate government of Equatorial Guinea," said Nguema at the African Union heads of state meeting in Ethiopia in July.
Equatorial Guinea has often accused the Spanish government of harbouring and supporting the exiled opposition leader, Severo Moto, who lives in Madrid.
Nguema recalled his ambassador to Spain following the alleged coup attempt.
The main financier behind the operation is alleged to be Ely Calil, who owes his startup wealth to his father’s interest in the oil industry.
Another of Moto’s financial backers and close advisers is London accountant Greg Wales. He is believed to be the man who roped in Simon Mann, who is in jail in Harare and is suspected of putting the coup plan together.
Mann’s father captained the English cricket team and is chairman of UK brewing giant Watneys. His South African mother was a former director of De Beers.
After a brief return to the military during the Gulf War, Mann and several others formed the Executive Outcomes mercenary firm which was succeeded by Sandline.
From information gleaned from accused Nick du Toit, Mann and intelligence sources, Moto is alleged to be the main instigator of the alleged coup plot with the primary financial backing of Calil and a number of business associates, including Lebanese businessman Karim Fallaha.
The government of Equatorial Guinea has also accused former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark of being a co-conspirator, charges that have been denied by his attorneys. He was arrested in Cape Town this morning.
Born in Kano, Nigeria, Calil is a naturalised Lebanese and claims to have close ties to Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.
He owns a £20 million home in Chelsea, London, and makes no secret of his relationship with Moto.
At the time the 18 were arrested, Moto had allegedly travelled on a South African-registered plane with Wales to Bamako in Mali.
The aircraft is believed to have landed in the Canary Islands before flying on to Bamako where it was to wait for the alleged coup to unfold.
The alleged plan was that 30 minutes after the coup had started, Moto would arrive in Malabo to assume power.
When word came via phone that a plane carrying alleged mercenaries had been arrested in Harare, Moto’s plane returned to Canary Islands where he was briefly detained before flying back to Spain.
Published on the web by Cape Argus on August 25, 2004.
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