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“I wish to add that Zambia is committed to the spirit of dialogue and cooperation which are enshrined in the regional and continental charters to which we are a State party,” Mr Pande said.

Posted by African Press International on December 14, 2008

Lusaka (Zambia) – The government has refuted online reports suggesting that Zambia and Botswana are planning to invade Zimbabwe to forcibly remove President Robert Mugabe from power.

Speaking at a joint Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister, Kabinga Pande and Defence Minister, George Mpombo said that the online report was malicious. Mr Pande said that the report, which appeared on http://www.zimbabwetoday.co.uk dated December 7, 2008, was false as Zambia was committed to working within the framework of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) decision in resolving the situation in Zimbabwe.

“I wish to add that Zambia is committed to the spirit of dialogue and cooperation which are enshrined in the regional and continental charters to which we are a State party,” Mr Pande said.

He said the Government believed that peace and stability in Zimbabwe could only be achieved through effective dialogue between the various stakeholders.

Mr Pande said that it was not feasible for Zambia to agitate for military invasion in Zimbabwe.

“Zambia remains a firm believer in the time-honoured principle of good neighbourliness. These provocative insinuations should, therefore, be dismissed with the contempt they deserve as they are indeed baseless and false,” Mr Pande said.

He suspected that the site was created by some Zimbabweans living outside their country and added that the Government had communicated with their counterparts in that country.

Mr Mpombo said that it was unthinkable for Zambia, which worked hard to liberate Zimbabwe, to push for regime change militarily. He said there was no element of truth in the story, emphasising that Zambia was bound to work within the decision of SADC.

“The allegations are a complete political hogwash and there is no truth in these allegations. Our role is to help Zimbabwe overcome the problems and this is through dialogue and not as a way of military intervention,” Mr Mpombo said.

The online story states that Zambia’s commandos at Mushili in Ndola have been training in joint operations with the army in Botswana with the prospect of invading Zimbabwe. The story quotes sources in Zambia as saying Zambians were equipped with AK47 rifles and rocket launchers. The online story says the plan was for Botswana’s troops and Zambian units to invade simultaneously from their own borders.

Source: The Times of Zambia (Zambia) – December 11, 2008.

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