Equatorial Guinea to close UK embassy over sanctions against President Obiang's son

Monday July 26 2021
Teodoro (aka Teodorin) Nguema Obiang Mongue, the son of Equatorial Guinea's president.

Teodoro (aka Teodorin) Nguema Obiang Mongue, the son of Equatorial Guinea's president. PHOTO | FILE


A diplomatic row over the UK’s decision to sanction the Vice President of Equatorial Guinea has led the central African nation to shut down its embassy in London.

Equatorial Guinea announced its decision on Monday, five days after the UK imposed the sanctions against Teodorin Nguema Obiang, who is the First Vice President and son of the country’s veteran President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Teodorin is accused of corruption.

“The first decision that the government has taken is the total closure of our diplomatic mission in London,” Foreign Minister Simeon Oyono Esono said on state broadcaster TVGE.

He gave no details as to when the decision would take effect, but described the UK’s action as interference to his country’s domestic affairs.

“We do not accept interference in our country’s domestic affairs,” he noted, adding that the sanctions breached “the principle of international law”.

Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema

Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. PHOTO | AFP


The VP is one of five foreign nationals targeted in the second instalment of the British crackdown on corruption last Thursday. The sanctions entail the freezing of assets and prohibition from entering the United Kingdom.

According to British authorities, Teodorin allegedly syphoned state assets into his own bank accounts. The British Foreign Office accused him of making corrupt contracting arrangements and soliciting bribes to support his lavish lifestyle.

Specifically, Teodorin is alleged to have spent some $500 million on mansions around the world, luxury cars and a collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including a $275,000 crystal-covered glove that the singer wore on his 1987-89 "Bad" tour.

In a statement immediately following that decision, the Equatorial Guinea government said Teodorin had no investment in the UK.

“The baseless sanctions imposed by the British government find their justification in manipulation, in lies… that certain non-governmental organisations are fomenting against the good image of Equatorial Guinea,” it said in a statement.

Oil-rich country

The only African nation colonised by Spain, oil-rich Equatorial Guinea is one of the most enclosed nations in the continent, and most of its 1.3 million population live in abject poverty, with notable lack of access to healthcare and proper water, hygiene and sanitation. This state of affairs has been attributed to corruption within the political class.

The country has been under the rule of the Obiang family since 1979, when Obiang Senior assumed power in a coup, ousting his uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, who had ruled the country since independence in 1968.

He had his uncle shot by firing squad.

Rights groups and opposition activists in the country accuse the president of rights abuses and running the country with iron fist.


The 53-year old Teodorin, who is in charge of Defence and Security, is considered as the likely successor of his father.

The move by the UK follows that of France which in 2012 seized a Paris mansion worth 107 million euro along with a fleet of luxury cars belonging to him.

In December 2020, a ruling by a UN court upheld France’s decision.

Equatorial Guinea, in an appeal through the International Court of Justice, had argued that the luxury mansion could not be confiscated as it was part of its diplomatic mission in France, denying that it belonged to Teodorin.

Later in February 2020, a French court also handed him a three-year suspended sentence, fined him 30 million euros ($35.3 million) and confiscated all his assets in France.