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No, video doesn’t show Guinea-Bissau president ‘beating minister who squandered Covid-19 funds’

Does this video show the president of Guinea-Bissau “beating a Minister who squandered COVID-19 Funds”? In the video, a man in a suit attacks another and chases him around a car park while a crowd of people looks on.

The video was posted on Facebook on 16 September 2020. But is its description correct? Is one of the men really Umaro Sissoco Embaló, who was elected president of the West African country in February 2020? And was it really shot in Guinea-Bissau?

This isn’t Guinea-Bissau

The video has been shared elsewhere with the claim that it was taken in Guinea, not Guinea-Bissau, and shows Guinean president Alpha Condé in the fight.

Guinea-Bissau is a small country south of Senegal, on the coast of Africa’s western bulge. The larger country of Guinea borders it to the east.

And the man energetically chasing and hitting his victim in the video does not appear to be the 82-year-old Condé.

To work out where the video was actually filmed, Africa Check first examined the licence plates on the cars in the car park. Some are difficult to make out, but all appear to match a single format: two letters, three numbers and then a single letter, each group separated with a dash.

The format does not match any of the Guinea-Bissau licence plate formats posted on this licence plate enthusiast's website. And it doesn’t match any examples of Guinean plates posted on the site World License Plates. But it does match one recent format from a third country, Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is also on the west coast of Africa, but well below the bulge and south of Cameroon.

The most visible plate in the video, on a black Toyota, begins with the pair of letters “WN”. This licence plate format indicates that the vehicle is registered in Equatorial Guinea’s Wele-Nzas province.

One version of the video suggests that it was filmed at the National University of Equatorial Guinea (UNGE). A photo and a video on Google Maps of nearby places confirm this. They show that a building in the background of the video sits across the road from the university’s main campus in the capital city of Malabo.

Despite correctly identifying where it was taken, this version of the video also claims that it shows the “president of Guinea”. Is this true?

That’s no president, and this isn’t about Covid-19

Equatorial Guinea’s head of state is president Teodoro Obiang, who is not one of the men in the video. It may be possible that the 78-year-old removed his glasses and shaved his head for the video, but considering that he has made recent public appearances with his usual head of hair, that explanation is unlikely.

Aside from this, there are other clues that the fight has nothing to do with Covid-19. Since 14 April, Equatorial Guinea has required that face masks be worn in public during the pandemic. Despite the relaxing of other regulations, this one is still in effect.

There have been reports that many people have not complied with these requirements, but it is suspicious that not one of the many people in the video is wearing a mask, including the supposed minister and president.

Fact-checking organisation AFP Fact-Check was told by a journalist and UNGE graduate that the fight took place in 2016, when a university student attacked a professor, Filiberto Monayong.

A longer version of the video was posted on YouTube in 2018, with a title that also identified the man being attacked as Filiberto Monayong. AFP was unable to confirm the story with Monayong, and so the exact circumstances of the fight can’t be verified, but the older version of the video is enough to confirm that it was filmed well before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The description of the video in the Facebook post is almost entirely incorrect. The video was not taken in Guinea-Bissau, it does not show a fight between a president and a minister, and it has nothing to do with Covid-19. – Keegan Leech


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