Malabo –The Malabo government on Thursday suspended 395 ships “illegally” flying Equatorial Guinea’s flag after an oil tanker under the central African nation’s colours capsized off Tunisia.
The Xelo’s seven-man crew were rescued on Saturday and none of the 750 tonnes of diesel fuel it was carrying to Malta has reportedly leaked.
The Malabo authorities announced a new system had been put in place to ensure the flag was not used for fraud.
“There are more than 300 vessels across the world which are working illegally under our flag,” tweeted vice president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the president’s son.
“On Wednesday we set up a mechanism to resolve and avoid this problem in the future.
“The flag of Equatorial Guinea cannot be the face of international fraud,” he added.
“Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue suspends the sailing of more than 395 ships operating illegally under the flag of Equatorial Guinea,” a government statement said.
The vice president “totally disapproves of the transport ministry or any other body or individual issuing authorisations to shipowners of dubious origin,” it said.
“No new international licences will be issued until this situation is cleared up,” Teodorin Obiang said.
His father, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has ruled the small African state with considerable oil and gas reserves for more than 40 years.
An inquiry has been opened in Tunisia into not only what caused the Xelo to capsize but also the activities of the oil tanker.