Museveni thanks North Korea in UN speech


Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. AFP PHOTO

Uganda is complying with United Nations sanctions against North Korea, President Yoweri Museveni assured the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

But in a speech to the world body, he described enforcement of those sanctions on a bellicose nuclear power as a “small issue.”

And the Ugandan leader added: “We are, however, grateful that, in the past, the North Koreans helped us to build our tank forces.”

In his 12-minute address, Mr Museveni did not refer specifically to a recent UN report in which a panel of experts said it is continuing to investigate North Korea's training of Ugandan military and police forces.

READ: UN probes Uganda, Tanzania over deals with North Korea

Not responded

The panel noted that the Ugandan government has not responded to its enquiries regarding trade with North Korea.

“We do not have to trade with North Korea,” President Museveni explicitly stated in his UN speech on Tuesday.

He suggested that “the dangerous situation” on the Korean peninsula might be resolved if the North and South “were left alone to discuss their re-unification.”

Mr Museveni drew a parallel between African unity and an envisioned hands-off approach toward Korea by outside powers.

“We always strive not to allow actors, foreign or local, to divide the African peoples, regardless of the complications involved,” he told the world body.

'Fight traitors'

“When you hear that Uganda accommodates many African refugees, it is on account of a conscious ideological position — not to allow any actors to divide us.”

“We only fight traitors,” Mr Museveni declared.

He also made remarks keyed to the theme of this year's UN General Assembly session: "Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent life for all on a Sustainable Planet.”

Mr Museveni posed a series of rhetorical questions asking “who would lose?” if all the world's people were ensured of having healthy diets, immunisation against diseases, literacy and numeracy skills, well-paying jobs and other attributes of “a decent life.”