Guinea-Bissau cops stuck in Angola

2012-10-15 22:17
Angolan military officers and soldiers overlook the loading of a tank onto a military cargo plane as they prepare to leave Bissau. (Alfa Balde, AFP)

Angolan military officers and soldiers overlook the loading of a tank onto a military cargo plane as they prepare to leave Bissau. (Alfa Balde, AFP)

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Luanda - Some 350 Guinea-Bissau policemen, who have been stuck in Angola for months due to a diplomatic spat between the two Portuguese-speaking nations, on Monday urged the authorities to let them go home.

The group has been in Angola since December 2011 for training under a bilateral deal to help reform the defence and security forces of their coup-prone west African nation.

"We completed the training in July and we are still waiting to hear when we can go," said one officer who asked not to be named. "We are here for four months and we are not doing anything. We want to go back to help our country and show what we learnt."

But relations between the two former Portuguese colonies have been strained since last year when some 600 Angolan troops were sent to Guinea-Bissau to help boost the government's capacity.

In a country where decades of conflict between the army and state have led assassinations and chronic instability, the Angolan troops were seen as a personal protection force for the government, angering local soldiers and prompting a coup in April.

That left the 350 police officers dispatched to Angola in limbo.

They even embarked on a hunger strike at the start of October in an attempt to increase pressure on the two governments to tackle their case.

Read more on:    angola  |  guinea-bissau  |  west africa
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