Tainted African ruler may get UN prize in his name

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI | September 29, 2011 | 2:05 PM EDT

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Western diplomats say that the ruler of Equatorial Guinea used his time as the rotating chairman of the African Union to secure a united African position on a controversial prize.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema hosted this summer's African Union summit in the miniscule nation of Equatorial Guinea. His government spent several times the annual education budget to build a resort to house the visiting African presidents. They in turn approved a motion calling on UNESCO to name a prize after Obiang.

Two senior diplomats in Paris, who are part of the negotiations on the UNESCO executive board and who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said Obiang manipulated the AU forum to unify support from Africa for the prize.

The UNESCO-Obiang prize has prompted outrage because Obiang's regime is accused of human rights abuses.