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4 countries exempt from UN vote ban

  UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Of the 12 member states blocked from voting at the UN General Assembly as they were more than two years in arrears on their UN membership dues, four of them have been granted exemptions because of extenuating circumstances, said the UN chief spokesman on Monday.

  "The General Assembly decided that Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia, although in arrears on their payments, shall be permitted to vote until the end of the current (72nd) session," Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman said.

  "Member states who are in arrears of an amount that equals or exceeds a contribution due for two years can lose their vote in the General Assembly," he said, referring to the UN Charter's Article 19. "An exception is allowed if the state can show that conditions beyond its control contributed to the inability to pay."

  The eight countries barred from voting in the General Assembly this session are the Central African Republic, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Grenada, Libya, Surinam, Venezuela and Yemen, Dujarric said.

  The exemption was voted on Oct. 17, 2017 but the spokesman announced the tally Monday when a question came up on how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was able to pay its dues despite strict sanctions imposed on banking procedures.

  "The UN country (mission) has a certain amount of costs in the way it operates in the DPRK," the spokesman said. "The DPRK paid those costs, which had been borne by the United Nations, as credit towards its dues."

  The world organization is working with the DPRK's permanent mission at UN Headquarters in New York and said it "would try to work with them to try to find a way through which they could pay," Dujarric said. "That includes opening of an account at the UN Federal Credit Union, but we are going to continue our discussion with them to see how to facilitate the payment."