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Zimbabwe Minister Says No Angolan Forces Headed For Harare

Zimbabwe Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said Thursday that there is no truth to reports Angola has agreed to send up to 3,000 paramilitary police to Zimbabwe to back up the security forces of beleaguered President Robert Mugabe.

The Angolan Embassy in Harare also said the reports were false.

Mohadi did recently sign an agreement with Luanda for security cooperation on issues such as trafficking in humans and arms, and terrorism. Although Mohadi was quoted in the Times of London on Thursday as saying the first Angolan paramilitaries would arrive in Harare by April 1, he told VOA that said such reports are false.

However, security sources in Harare told VOA that there is some substance to the story, and that the two countries did agree Luanda would send some 3,000 reinforcements to help Zimbabwean authorities maintain public order.

But the emergence of press reports caused a stir in the region - particularly in Angola - leading both countries to issue denials of such a deal. The Angolan troops, known as “Ninjas” because of their black uniform, are said to be feared in their own country.

Angolan Home Affairs Mister Roberto Monteiro told Zimbabwe’s state-owned Newsnet agency that he is sympathetic to the Zimbabwe Republic Police, which he said is “under is pressure” from subversive elements in the political opposition.

Zimbabwe Home Affairs Minister Mohadi told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there are simply no plans to recruit support from Angola.

Political analyst Brian Kagoro, head of Africa policy for the British-based development organization ActionAid, noted that the Southern African Development Community’s protocol on intra-regional security cooperation is unclear on intervention.

President Mugabe and his Angolan counterpart, President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, have a close relationship having fought as allies in 1997 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in support of then-President Laurent Kabila, assassinated in 2001.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...