PR effort to counter graft

DAKAR - Equatorial Guinea is stepping up efforts to clean up its image as one of Africa's most corrupt and repressive nations by hiring US public relations experts to fend off criticism and revive dwindling investment.

DAKAR - Equatorial Guinea is stepping up efforts to clean up its image as one of Africa's most corrupt and repressive nations by hiring US public relations experts to fend off criticism and revive dwindling investment.

The stakes are high for the tiny West African state, where oil reserves accounting for most of the country's revenues are in decline and pressure is rising for reforms that will benefit its impoverished population.

The country was listed 12th from bottom in a list of 180 countries ranked on efforts to stamp out graft by Berlin-based Transparency International in 2009.

Equatorial Guinea suffered the latest blow to its reputation just last week when UN culture and education body Unesco suspended a prize named after the country's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema following complaints by human rights groups. - Reuters

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