There is nothing democratic about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – North Korea. The leader, Kim Jong Un is a despot, a worshipped militaristic totalitarian tyrant with no regrets. He has a reckless foreign policy which he keeps taking to new levels of callousness. His high-point was the nuclear missiles he set up to defend his country against threats from the West. Debris likely from North Korea’s missile recently washed ashore in Japan. He is a man who loves controversy and provocation. North Korea has been isolated from the greater global community as a result of this dangerous foreign policy but some African suspects have chosen to align themselves with the marshal and Supreme Commander. North Korea is a known pariah state and one wonders just what these governments are doing sharing a bed with DPRK.
Teodoro Mbasogo is a despotic leader in the Equatorial Guinea. He also happens to be the longest serving African leader and it does not come as a surprise that he would be on amiable terms with North Korea. The Equatoguinean friendship with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is however, not of his making as it is a continuation of a 1970s alliance initiated by Fransisco Nguema who went on to change the name of his ruling party to United National Workers Party in 1971.
In May 2016, Kin Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the People’s Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea made an official visit to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Mbasogo had a meeting with the Korean delegation and stressed the relations of friendship and co-operation between North Korea and Equatorial Guinea as “historical to the point of describing them as traditional”.
The Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office reports that the Equatoguinean leader said, “In effect, following the return of Equatorial Guinea to national sovereignty, following a long period of foreign domination, a representation from the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea made contact with authorities from our country in order to agree to the setting up of relations of friendship and co-operation between the two countries.”
The claim that the relations are an effort to “consolidate independence and sovereignty” does not make it any less suspicious that these two love-birds are courting. Just what could be happening?
On June 11, 2015, a report was released alleging North Korea has been providing military aid to Angola. North Korea was said to be providing military goods and training to Angola, violating sanctions against it by the United Nations. Angola got marine engines and replacement of patrol boats through North Korea’s Saengpil Associated Co. from 2011 yet a 2009 U.N. Security resolution bans DPRK from “exporting technical training, advice, services, or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of all arms or materiel”. The sanctions were imposed as a direct response to a North Korean underground nuclear test.
In April 2016, there were revelations of a dialogue between Angola’s Secretary of the Interior and North Korean representatives on “issues pertaining to security and public order”. President dos Santos himself is in no way the encapsulation of democracy and this new relationship with authoritarianism’s figurehead is disturbing to say the least, worse still for security and public order. There are no prizes for guessing what that means.
Democratic Republic of Congo
United Nations experts revealed that “several Congolese officers told them North Korea has supplied Congolese troops and police with pistols and sent 30 instructors to provide training for the presidential guard and special forces”. This is again a violation of the 2009 embargo on North Korea. Weapons were delivered to Matadi, DRC in early 2014 and similar pistols have been seen on the black market in Kinshasa. With President Joseph Kabila being accused of attempting to remain in power after the expiry of his constitutional terms, the DPRK partnership smells foul and is very suspicious.
President Joseph Kabila has been accused of deploying various tactics to delay the elections in a bid to stay in power. In response, there has been a growing threat of sanctions which the Kabila regime has not taken kindly, claiming western powers were trying to restore colonialism. Moise Katumbi, Kabila’s main political rival was indicted on charges of hiring mercenaries as part of a plot against the state in May, 2016. The North Korean friendship comes at very interesting times indeed and Africa waits to see how DPRK fits in the Congolese power struggle.
It may seem paranoid to flag every little relationship North Korea has with Africa but DPRK is usually bad news. That it is associating itself with some of Africa’s undemocratic regimes legitimates the insecurities. One only has to remember the Gukurahundi tragedy of Zimbabwe where thousands of people lost their lives at the hands of a North Korean trained 5th Brigade army. What is really going on in Equatorial Guinea, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo? Are these innocent diplomatic relations or Africa should be worried? Can Kim Jong Un and his company of autocrats be trusted?
Image Credit: Guardian