British firm told to quit Angola

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Angola yesterday ordered all foreigners working for the London- based security company Defence Systems Limited, founded by former officers of Britain's elite Special Air Service, to leave the country immediately, a company official said.

DSL's chief executive, Richard Bethell, told clients, which include most foreign companies and embassies in Angola, in a letter on Wednesday to put in place security contingency plans.

The company official, who asked not to be named, said an aircraft was on standby in Johannesburg, awaiting clearance to land in Luanda to fetch the 103 foreigners, of whom 45 are Gurkhas from Nepal.

DSL was the largest private security firm in Angola, guarding top expatriate officials of most embassies as well as oil and mining companies.

There are over 90 security companies operating in Angola. "This is a nightmare, not only in terms of who will protect our houses and offices, but also for any foreign company planning to invest in Angola." a senior Western diplomat said.

The Angolan government issued a decree on 24 December ordering DSL's immediate expulsion, saying its operations were irregular. The government informed all expatriates working for the company to leave the country by yesterday morning.

The Interior Ministry said DSL, which operated as DSL Angola since 1992 when it became illegal for foreigners to own security companies in the country, had kept its top management exclusively for foreigners. Most foreign security companies in Angola have joint ventures with Angolan partners, usually army generals who are paid hefty dollar salaries.

- Reuters, Johannesburg