Wednesday, October 27, 2021

UN investigates Botswana over North Korea sanctions busting

The United Nations (UN) is investigating Botswana for violating sanctions imposed on North Korea A UN panel of experts report released recently states that Botswana is under investigations over questionable dealings with companies that are linked to the Republic Of North Korea running into millions of Pula. The UN has requested information from Botswana on Mansudae, the company that had won a contract to construct Botswana’s three Dikgosi Monument. According to the report, Botswana has not responded to the UN enquiries. The Three Dikgosi Monument is an 18 foot tall bronze sculpture located in the Central Business District of Gaborone.  The report published by an eight-member panel of experts on September 9, shows that UN is also investigating a company with links to Mansudae, called the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) which has military dealings with a number of African countries.

Botswana and other countries in the region such as Namibia and Angola have been requested to show cause why they should not face the wrath of UN. The report states that “the Panel has written to these countries requesting information on the entity’s (Masudae) activities including the provision of statues.” The UN say Botswana is also among countries that are yet to submit National Inventory Report (NIR) for 2016. Some countries such as Botswana which terminated  diplomatic relations with Korea believe that they are not violating the UN sanctions, but the report shows that using private companies and embassies as a front, North Korea was able to sell arms and offer security and military training to  11 African countries among them Botswana.

The UN warned Botswana and other member states that they should be vigilant regarding the ownership, management or operation of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-flagged vessels by their nationals, including the use of front companies to circumvent the resolutions. Contacted for a comment, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi referred this publication to the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Gaeimelwe Goitsemang. While the Ministry is aware of the report, Goitsemang said they have not received a letter from UN requesting for information on North Korean companies. “No we have not received the communication. But we are awaiting communication from our office in New York as to whether that communication was delivered through them,” he said.

Goitsemang said Botswana is one the countries that recently terminated their diplomatic ties with North Korea based on what he called that country’s despicable acts. “…Therefore we cannot transact business with North Korea and we are also not aware of companies from that country which are transacting business in Botswana. Some of them did but that was before we cut diplomatic ties with that country,” he said. When asked to respond to allegations that North Korea was using some companies and embassies as a front he said, “We will follow that up and indeed those companies are there we will cooperate with UN.”

Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Mozambique and Namibia are also named by the panel of experts as subjects of UN investigation regarding sanctions violations. Other African countries under investigation are Angola, Benin, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe for contracting North Korea’s Mansudae Overseas Project Group for services.

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