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Tanzania to Crack Down on Ships With Suspicious Cargo


FILE - The Luna-S, a Tanzania-flagged vessel, intercepted by the French navy in international waters between Sardinia in Italy and Algeria, is seen moored in the naval base of Toulon, southern France, Oct. 15, 2013.

Tanzania’s government has de-registered an explosives-laden Libya-bound ship flying the country’s flag when it was seized by Greek authorities earlier this month. The government says it will also take a closer look at ships being registered in the East African country.

Speaking to reporters Thursday at the presidential palace, Tanzanian Vice President Samia Hassan said her government would revoke the license of the ship involved in transporting the explosives, and another ship caught transporting cocaine.

“We are taking the first step to de-register these ships. And we are demanding them to pull down our flags from the ships so that they can face the law,” Hassan said.

Last week Greek authorities intercepted the vessel carrying the explosives. The cargo papers showed the material were destined for Djibouti but according to reports, Greek inspectors found the cargo was bound for Libya.

In 2011, the United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya.

Three weeks earlier, another ship flying the Tanzanian flag was intercepted in the Caribbean. The cargo tanker was carrying 1.6 tons of cocaine.

Maritime expert Julius Nguhulla says vessels from the East African nation now will be a target.

“There is no problem registering ships in Tanzania or another country. It’s a good business if it's handled well. Now Tanzania will not be getting such businesses from ships because ships with Tanzanian flags will be targeted. It's up to maritime agencies to do something about like monitoring of all the ships,” Nguhulla said.

Vice President Hassan says the government will keep closer watch on ships being registered in the country.

“We have decided to review our laws. Some of these people are running away from their countries because they have strict laws. For us, we have decided to review and strengthen our laws so that we can nab those coming to register such vessels in our country,” Hassan said.

Tanzania is one of the seven countries being investigated by the United Nations for allegedly violating an arms embargo against North Korea.

The U.S. has put pressure on Tanzania and four other African countries to stop allowing North Korean ships to fly their flags.

Khalid Abubakar contributed to this report from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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