Campaigners try to stop Zimbabwe gunship delivery

Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A regional civic campaign group says it is taking legal action to stop Zimbabwe from taking delivery of helicopter gunships from neighboring South Africa.

Willie Spies, a law expert at AfriForum, said Friday the South African military agreed to donate its surplus of aging French-designed Alouette helicopters to Zimbabwe for "imminent delivery."

He said in a statement that South Africa's Defense Ministry and its National Conventional Arms Control Committee did not respond to questions on the donation but officials of both bodies confirmed arrangements have been finalized.

The group said it wants to prevent the helicopters being used to bolster the "visibility, mobility and presence" of President Robert Mugabe's loyalist military before elections this year. Zimbabwe is under a Western arms embargo that includes French spare parts for Alouettes.

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