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World Briefing / PANAMA

President's moves cause concern

August 22, 2008|From Times Wire Services

Panama, which has no army, is creating a new intelligence agency and a border police force, prompting concerns of a possible return to its militarized past.

President Martin Torrijos says the intelligence force is needed to combat growing drug crimes. He signed an executive order Wednesday creating the intelligence and border police forces and combining the naval and air police forces. Lawmakers are expected to approve the initiatives, but opponents say the changes would give the government unprecedented surveillance powers.

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