Namibia and North Korea aren’t exactly a pairing you’d expect to work, although new information coming to light shows the two have been sharing a rather cosy relationship for the best part of 10 years.
It turns out the Namibian army has been violating United Nations sanctions against North Korea since 2006, something president Hage Geingob addressed last week.
The leader defended the relationship by saying ‘their soldiers fought alongside Swapo during the liberation struggle years’, although just how closely the two are working together has raised many eyebrows around the world. Below from the Mail & Guardian:
…the ministry of defence had several military co-operation agreements with North Korea. These included the construction of a munitions factory, a military headquarters and a military school in Okahandja, where the North Koreans also built a military museum that has remained closed to the public since it was completed in 2006.
These operations were reportedly agreed on before UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea were put in place, although not everyone is buying it:
Sources at the settlement of Groot Aub confirmed that the complex and the, accommodation facilities for military staff were built by the North Korean team.
Several international weapons experts, including those previously employed by the UN as consultants, agreed that the design of the complex closely corresponded to a typical design for a munitions plant.
More on the dodgy dealings from PoliticsWeb:
…the cooperation with North Korea was based on Pyangyang’s historical support for the liberation struggle (1966 -1989), Nandi-Ndaitwah said in the interview.
Historians were however puzzled by this alleged history: North Korea never featured among the 30 countries where SWAPO had representation, André du Pisani,Professor Emeritus for Political Science at the University of Namibia pointed out.
Instead, this relationship appeared to be based on the personal relationship between founding President Sam Nujoma, still the major force in Namibian politics, and the Kim family. A review of news articles dating back to Independence in 1990 showed that he had visited North Korea no fewer than 11 times.
On his last visit in 2005, 100,000 North Koreans lined the road to cheer Nujoma on his way to Pyongyang, where current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s father Il-sung presented Nujoma with a Korean translation of his hagiography “Where others wavered,” Xinhua news service reported that year.
Namibia has, up until this point at least, enjoyed an international reputation as being one of Africa’s most respected governments. As more details come to light about their cosy relationship with North Korea that might be about to change.
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