The United Nations (UN) committee on sanctions has reportedly told Namibia that the country’s relations with North Korea, which include cooperation on a military project, are not in violation of any statutes of the world body.
A political commentator says this brings relief to Namibians, who feared UN sanctions and other consequences contemplated by naysayers in recent weeks.
Critics had a field day by drumming up the hype around Namibia’s supposed violations of international law and the punishment it would possibly face for its supposed unholy alliance with the East Asian country.
News of exoneration follows a meeting between the UN committee and a Namibian delegation of top government officials to discuss the relations which had caught international attention, especially with North Korea being banned by the UN Security Council from, among others, any technology transfer or training that could be used for military purposes between that country and UN member countries.
It was perceived that the current building of an ammunition factory in Namibia by the North Koreans was in defiance of the UN ban, but President Hage Geingob, who was in New York last week for a UN conference, has consistently maintained that the agreement was entered into before UN sanctions were imposed on North Korea.
When it was suggested that Namibia could also herself face UN sanctions, citizens were thrown into a state hysteria and fear, with some calling on government to pull the plug on the relationship with North Korea. It was particularly feared that the UN agencies represented in Namibia might pull out as a result of any sanctions.
However, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said the UN has given Namibia a clean bill of health as far as relations with North Korea are concerned.
“There is nothing really to worry about and we want to assure our people that as a government we will continue to cooperate with the UN,” the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation quoted Nandi-Ndaitwah as saying.
Nandi-Ndaitwah also said that the North Koreans are currently not in the country and assured Namibians that all was well.
During the State of the Nation Address earlier this month, Geingob said trade agreements with North Korea started way back in 1990. It is not clear what sanctions the UN could impose on those countries found wanting in relation to the sanctions imposed on North Korea – a country often accused by UN members of gross human rights violations.
Geingob also said that as a sovereign country, Namibia is at liberty to forge relations with any nation of its choice – including Pyongyang.
He explained that the relationship between the Namibian people and North Korea dates back to the days of the liberation struggle when that country supported Namibia – and diplomatic ties continued after independence.
Political commentator Phanuel Kaapama welcomed the news, adding that Namibians will now rest their fears and worries.
“The allegations caused alarm in that these things have implications and if Namibia was found guilty this would have meant that the UN might have considered sanctions against the country itself,” said Kaapama.
“The government is vindicated and Namibians should rest assured that all is well.”
Kaapama then advised that government should be open with its dealings and projects with the North Koreans to avoid rumour-mongering and unnecessary panic.
Nandi-Ndaitwah could not be reached for further comment, and messages sent to her went answered.