- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2002

From combined dispatches
Angola's revived hopes for an end to decades of civil war were dealt a blow this week with the first report of a UNITA attack since government troops killed rebel leader Jonas Savimbi on Friday. He was buried the next day.
Guerrillas of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (whose acronym in Portuguese is UNITA) killed nine persons and seriously wounded 15 in central Angola on Monday when they fired on a truck, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported. Mr. Savimbi's death fueled hopes of an end to a civil war that had dragged on since Angola's independence from Portugal in 1975.
News of the attack broke Tuesday as Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was in Washington for talks with his Mozambique and Botswana counterparts and President Bush on the situation in Angola and other African issues.
"We committed to achieve a cease-fire as soon as possible and also to facilitate the normalization of the political situation in Angola," Mr. dos Santos said through an interpreter after the White House meeting.
The Angolan leader also said he hoped to hold elections "as soon as we have security" and offered to make room for UNITA on the country's political landscape. "As a party, UNITA has room. But we won't allow UNITA to have a private army," he declared.
Mr. Bush said: "President dos Santos has it within his power to end 26 years of fighting by reaching out to all Angolans willing to lay down their arms. Angolans deserve no less."
More than a half-million people have died in the war, according to the most conservative estimates, and more than one-third of the Angola's 12 million people have been displaced.
Meanwhile, in Lisbon, an UNITA representative said Mr. Savimbi's deputy, Antonio Dembo, had assumed leadership of the guerrilla group.
Mr. Dembo has made contact with "certain commanders in the country, probably to reorganize the party, and so he feels more at ease," Carlos Morgado told Lusa late Tuesday.
The killing of Mr. Savimbi had left UNITA split over his successor, with the faction closest to the slain rebel leader supporting Mr. Dembo.
Gen. Eugenio Manuvakola, who heads a dissident faction of UNITA, tried to declare himself the new chief, a move opposed even among his followers. War-weary and impoverished Angolans said they hoped Mr. Savimbi's death meant peace and more money in their pockets in an economy driven by diamonds and oil.
Mr. Savimbi funded his war by selling diamonds, a rich resource in Angola. The government filled its war chest with huge earnings from offshore oil.
The oil sector provides Angola with more than 80 percent of its income, but foreign oil giants do not disclose their financial dealings with Mr. dos Santos' government.
The London-based pressure group Global Witness said Tuesday's meeting in Washington gave President Bush "a great chance" to press Mr. dos Santos to account for "the full-scale embezzlement of oil money by [Angolas] ruling elite."
Global Witness noted that a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggested that $1.4 billion almost one-third of Angola's state revenue vanished last year.
"Meanwhile, the U.N. was left to scrape together $200 million to feed the one million displaced people who depend on emergency food aid in Angola," the group said.
"I hope the government spends less on war now that [Mr. Savimbi is] gone. We need schools and hospitals. They must spend money on us now," cabdriver Pedro Jose Agostinho said in Luanda, the Angolan capital.
Lisbon's Diario de Noticias newspaper reported that international telephone calls by Mr. Savimbi and another UNITA member helped Angolan government forces track him down in the jungle.
The paper, which did not identify a source for its information, said the call by Mr. Savimbi was made on Feb. 13 from eastern Moxico province, eight days before he was killed in a clash with government troops in that region.
A member of a UNITA unit protecting Mr. Savimbi also made a call to Paris the day before the leader's death, Diario de Noticias added. The call was made from roughly 45 miles from where Mr. Savimbi was killed, it said.
A UNITA representative told Lisbon private radio TSF on Monday that Israeli, Portuguese and South African troops helped Angolan forces find the rebel leader.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide