Government officials Clash over North Korea Military Ties

Uganda government officials have clashed over South Korea’s claim that Kampala had ordered a halt to military ties with North Korea in line with UN sanctions.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s spokesman had earlier Sunday told reporters that President Yoweri Museveni had ordered officials to honour the latest sanctions during a summit in Kampala.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (C) is welcomed by President Yoweri Museveni (R) at State House, Entebbe on Saturday
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (C) is welcomed by President Yoweri Museveni (R) at State House, Entebbe on Saturday

Spokesman Jung Yeon-Guk quoted Museveni as saying: “We instructed officials to faithfully enforce the UN Security Council resolutions, including the halt of cooperation with North Korea in the security, military and police sectors.”

In addition, Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa while addressing journalists at State House Entebbe said that Kampala has decided to cut military cooperation with Pyongyang.

Park and Museveni held talks on Sunday and signed a Memorandum of Understanding which spells out areas of cooperation.

“Following the UN sanctions, we are disengaging our relations with North Korea. We do not support proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Kuteesa said.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye (L) walks with Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa (R) after arriving at Entebbe International Airport, Saturday
South Korean President Park Geun-hye (L) walks with Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa (R) after arriving at Entebbe International Airport, Saturday

However, in a twist of events, deputy government spokesman Shaban Bantariza has refuted such allegations.

“That is not true. It is propaganda,” Col (Rtd) Shaban Bantariza told AFP.

“Even if (such an order) was to be made by the president, it cannot be public. It cannot be therefore true and it can’t happen. That is international politics at play,” he added.

It should be remembered that in March this year, H.E Myong Kyong Chol, Ambassador of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) in an exclusive interview with Red Pepper said that DPRK will continue offering including training and education to the Ugandan police because security and peace is a pre-requisite for every country.

“My country has a long history of friendly relations with Uganda and if Ugandan government still needs our support then we are willing to cooperate. DPRK has supported several African governments but we don’t have any interests whatsoever,” Kyong said.

“DPRK is a self-reliant young state and my country is only interested in sharing experiences, opinions with Uganda on how to develop the economy.”

DPRK Ambassador Myong Kyong Chol during an interview in March
DPRK Ambassador Myong Kyong Chol during an interview in March

To back up his (Kyong) statement, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem confirmed in another interview that Uganda has a right to choose their friends and enemies and that no single state has the full to dictate which state should be their friend or enemy.

“We (Uganda) select our friends and enemies. This is so because what may be one’s friend may be the other’s enemy and what may be one’s enemy may be another’s friend. So we shall continue to enjoy the cooperation between Uganda and North Korea and no one can influence us to do otherwise,” Oryem said.

“Having a good relationship with North Korea does not in any way breach the contract with the UN. We have had a unique friendship with South Korea, Cuba and Iran among others, how come the UN has not stopped us?”

A January report by the Royal United Service Institute for Defence and Security Studies listed Uganda among the top five countries in the world that have defied the UN sanctions against North Korea and continued military cooperation with DPRK. As a result, the UN warned Uganda among other countries to cut ties with Pyongyang.

The UN resolutions 1874 of 2009 and 1718 of 2006 stops North Korea from exporting arms, providing military training and military equipment to any UN member state.

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