Botswana president berates N. Korean regime

October 23, 2015
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, right, shakes hands with her Botswana counterpart Ian Khama before their summit at the presidential Blue House in Seoul Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool Photo via AP)

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, right, shakes hands with her Botswana counterpart Ian Khama before their summit at the presidential Blue House in Seoul Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool Photo via AP)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Botswana President Ian Khama was firm Friday as he expressed no interest in maintaining diplomatic relations with an oppressive regime like that of North Korea.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency, the African leader also warned the North Korean leadership that it won’t last unless it embraces democracy and cares for its people.

“Their kind of behavior and their kind of conduct is totally unacceptable in today’s world,” Khama said during a four-day official visit to Seoul. “It’s just a matter of time before that system will be overthrown.”

Botswana severed diplomatic ties with North Korea in February last year after the U.N. Committee of Inquiry released a report accusing Pyongyang of serious human rights abuses, such as holding thousands of people in political prison camps, abducting foreigners and forcing people to starvation.

“As a democracy with our own principles, we just felt that they are not worthy, for us anyway, of having relations with,” Khama said. “Coupled with that was the constant aggressive stance, military stance that they’d been taking, threatening their neighbors like yourselves.”

“That convinced us that, well, it doesn’t look like things are ever going to get better there and therefore we need to make a statement. And for us — we live many miles away — so the best thing we could do is just to sever diplomatic relations with that kind of regime,” he said.

Pyongyang bristles at any criticism of its human rights situation, calling it a U.S.-led campaign to topple the regime.

Shortly after the decision, North Korea’s ambassador to South Africa, who also covered Botswana, requested a visit to the neighboring nation.

“We refused to see him and we felt that as we had cut off diplomatic relations, we didn’t want to have anything to do with him,” Khama said.

Botswana is ranked among Africa’s most successful countries with a fast-growing economy and stable democratic system.

Khama’s visit to South Korea, the first by a Botswana president since 1994, is expected to help strengthen ties between Asia’s fourth-largest economy and the diamond-rich African nation.

Khama especially stressed the many advantages his country offers to potential investors, including the tax base, low corruption rates, peace and stability in the country, and the fact that it’s abolished foreign exchange controls.

Botswana has also been in talks with South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., to buy its T-50 trainer jets. Khama, a lieutenant general and former commander of the Botswana Defense Force, visited the KAI headquarters on Thursday.

The Botswana military is expected to make its final decision on the purchase by the end of the year after considering options in two other countries, the president said.

During his talks with President Park Geun-hye earlier in the day, the two sides discussed various infrastructure projects South Korean companies could participate in in Botswana, according to Park’s office. The southern African country has been seeking projects worth more than US$2.6 billion to meet power shortage and build infrastructure.

Khama, who, like Park, was born to one of his country’s former presidents, has yet to marry at the age of 62 — another thing he has in common with his South Korean counterpart.

He was open to the idea of a Korean wife.

“If I was here long enough and someone came along who I was attracted to, I wouldn’t have a problem with that,” he said, laughing.


  1. salehe

    October 24, 2015 at 3:56 AM

    HE Ian Khama’s leadership style is no better than North Korean leadership. Botswana is not in any measure Africa’s model democracy. Khama is a seasoned dictator as he suffers severely from Narcissistic Personality Disorder characterized by a long-standing pattern of his grandiosity (both in fantasy and actual behavior), with an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. Khama deports regularly foreigners and denies wholesale work and residence permits to qualified expatriates in Botswana without valid grounds. My advise to Ian “”Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5″You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” Bible Matthew 7:5-6. Source:

  2. salehe

    October 24, 2015 at 4:09 AM

    A well known dictator , Ian Khama, who is a perfect incarnation of Nazi’s Adolf Hitler, is a very poor diplomat and lacks moral right to condemn other dictators himslef. Does Ian attend SADC, AU and UN Heads of State meetings? No! Why? Because Khama lacks leadership skills and qualities to run a country. Hence, Botswana is collapsing economically due to his deplorable, poor leadership style of exterminating the Khoisan and extra-judicial killings of his opponents including the Labor Union leaders.