Botswana's army chief defends purchase of tanks and combat aircraft

Botswana's army chief defended the purchase of tanks and combat aircraft yesterday, saying the country had a right to decide its military needs for itself. Lieutenant- General Ian Khama made the remarks after criticism from neighbouring Namibia over Botswana's purchase of 13 SF-5 fighter-bombers from Canada and its attempts to buy 50 German-made Leopard tanks and other weaponry from the Netherlands. A Botswana military source who did not want to be identified said the deal with the Dutch was worth about $15m (pounds 10m). Canada has said the aircraft are worth $50m. "We are the ones to say what is and what is not necessary for Botswana," General Khama said. "We were made attractive offers that we could afford."

General Khama added that the purchases had nothing to do with a long- standing border dispute with Namibia, which the two countries have taken to the World Court in The Hague. Gaborone - Reuter