E Guinea lawmakers banned from foreign travel

Equatorial Guinea's lawmakers have been banned from foreign travel unless authorised by Vice President Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the president's son, according to a note from the presidency obtained by AFP on Thursday.

"On the grounds of national interest," lawmakers must submit a request to travel abroad to the head of the National Assembly or the Senate "with the agreement of the vice president," said the note dated July 27.

Some lawmakers in Malabo confirmed the information to AFP.

In June, the country's civil servants were hit with a similar ban.

According to sources, the move is linked to an attempted coup that took place in December, the details of which were announced by the Equatorial Guinean government in January.

The authorities say the operation involved a group of men from Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan, but some of the ringleaders were civil servants who had travelled to Europe in late 2017.

Several foreign nationals have also been accused of fomenting the thwarted coup.

It was followed by the arrests of scores of opposition activists and the banning of their party, the Citizens for Innovation (CI), purportedly over scuffles that took place before legislative elections last November.

The CI has been calling for the release of its jailed members, saying the president had failed to uphold a promise of amnesty announced in July which was supposed to smooth the way for a "national dialogue".

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has ruled the small, oil-rich state with an iron fist since August 1979.

His son Teodorin, aged 49, was handed a three-year suspended prison term by a French court last year and fined $35m for money laundering, corruption and abuse of public assets.

He was found to have embezzled $173m to fund his lavish lifestyle, which included a six-storey mansion on the upscale Avenue Foch in Paris.

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