Madrid - Equatorial Guinea's only opposition legislator said in an interview published on Friday the situation in his country is worse than in Zimbabwe, but Western nations turn a blind eye because of its oil reserves.
"The situation is worse than in Zimbabwe," Placido Mico Abogo said of the west African country, ruled with an iron fist by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
"The opposition has no political presence. There are no unions or professional associations. There is no media that escapes the government's control," he told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
"In Zimbabwe, there are independent tribunals. In our case, the judges have been appointed by Obiang and many belong to his party, even though that is illegal," said the secretary general of the Convergence for Social Democracy Party (CPDS).
The CPDS is the country's only true opposition party, and Placido Mico Abogo is its only deputy in parliament.
He said legislative elections in May, won overwhelmingly by Obiang's ruling party and its allies, were "the most violent and manipulated" in history.
The lack of response by Western nations, which contrasts with their protests at the recent disputed re-election of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, is due to their oil interests in the country.
"The policies of the United States in Equatorial Guinea is to ensure the exploitation of its (oil) reserves, which means it is complicit in the dictatorship," he said.
He also denounced the "backward step" by former colonial power Spain in its attitude toward the regime.
"The silence is the best ally of all dictatorships," he said.
Obiang, who has been in power since a 1979 coup which ousted his uncle, has been frequently accused of violating human rights.
Equatorial Guinea currently ranks as sub-Saharan Africa's third crude oil producer and has had double digit economic growth for several years, although the population enjoys little of the wealth generated.
Most live in dire poverty and the country ranks 127th out of 177 countries in the UN Development Programme's human development index rankings, despite a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $7 874 (about R60 731), making it the 73rd richest country in the world by GDP.