Equatorial Guinea’s foreign minister Simeon Oyono Esono announced Monday that it will close its diplomatic mission in London. The announcement came after Britain sanctioned President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s son for misappropriating millions of dollars, according to Reuters. Teodoro Obiang Mangue is the president’s son, and vice president of the gulf of Guinea nation.
“[T]he first decision that the Malabo executive has taken is the total closure of our diplomatic headquarters in London,” Foreign Minister Esono said on state television. London said millions of dollars were spent on luxury mansions, private jets and a $275,000 crystal glove worn by Michael Jackson on his “Bad” tour. Africa News states that Mangue was already accused of money laundering in France. He also acquired a mansion worth over 107 million euro on Paris’s Avenue Foch, and luxury cars which were seized as “ill-gotten gains.”
In February 2020, Mangue was sentenced to a three-year suspension, 30 million euro fine, and confiscation of his assets in France by a French court. A final ruling by the Court of Cassation was expected Wednesday. Britain said it would impose an asset freeze and travel ban on Mangue, taking away his ability to channel money through U.K. banks or enter the country.
Equatorial Guinea’s foreign ministry said Friday that these sanctions were illegally imposed and denied that Mangue made any investments in Britain or was charged to court there. The foreign minister said that they will not accept interference in the internal affairs of the country that violates the principle of international law. “[T]he unfounded sanctions imposed by the British Government are justified by the manipulations, lies and malevolent initiatives promoted by certain non-governmental organizations against the good image of Equatorial Guinea,” the statement by the Equatorial Guinea foreign ministry said.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled Equatorial Guinea since seizing power in a 1979 coup. It is the only Spanish-speaking country after becoming independent from Spain a decade before Mbasogo gained power. According to Britannica, their economy used to depend on cocoa, coffee and timber. However, since the discovery of petroleum and natural gas, these natural resources were exploited to the point of changing the country’s economic profile overnight in the 1980s.
Equatorial Guinea’s oil reserves have increased the size of its economy and now account for a majority of its exports and contribute to four-fifths of its GDP, says Britannica. Despite their increasing economy, more than 76 percent of the population continues to live in poverty, according to World Bank figures.
As reported by Human Rights Watch, citizens of Equatorial Guinea continue to be denied economic, social and political rights, as well as access to health care and primary education. Additionally, several countries pursued many corruption allegations against government officials, and their two-year term as a member of the United Nations Security Council ended.
Considering which of Equatorial Guinea’s governments subjects its citizens and other states to withstand its corrupt political government officials, key agents like governments and NGOs need to reevaluate the system. This includes the way in which they give loans, to ensure that these assets are properly used for the country’s citizens and not to fuel more scandals with government officials.