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THE ship intercepted on the Mediterranean Sea on suspicion of transporting illegal arms, was using the Zambian flag illegally because Government does not own the MV Gauja cargo ship,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary for International Relations and Cooperation (IR&C), Chalwe Lombe has said.

Mr Lombe said the government does not own MV Gauja, the cargo ship that was intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea on suspicion that it was carrying illegal arms.

He said Government does not own it and has never registered the vessel.

“The government is yet to set up an International Ship Registry. Further, the government is not undertaking any operation in the Mediterranean Sea,” Mr Lombe said.

He said Zambia had communicated to the International Maritime Organisation to inform the body responsible for all maritime matters of its position.

Mr Lombe was responding to a press query on allegations suggesting that a vessel registered in Zambia and bearing the Zambian flag was intercepted by the European Union (EU) Naval Force on suspicion of carrying illegal arms.

He said the ministry was contacted by the EU Force on May 10, this year regarding the vessel MV Gauja that was intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea.

He added the matter was being addressed through diplomatic channels.

“The Government of the Republic of Zambia remains unequivocally committed to safeguarding the interests of the country and its people, and reiterates its unwavering commitment to the principles that underpin its foreign policy in furtherance of cordial relations with other countries,” Mr Lombe said.

He said it was unfortunate that the media were running articles on the matter without seeking Government’s position.

“In view of these developments where organisations are illegally using the Zambian flag and the Zambian Ship Registry, the government has continued to engage the International Maritime Organisation and the European Union Naval Force to ensure that the matter is resolved urgently and conclusively,” Mr Lombe said.

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