Twenty years after arming anti-communist rebels in Angola, the United States is applauding its former enemy for holding generally fair elections in which Washington’s former ally suffered a crushing defeat.
“We congratulate the people of Angola on their participation in this important step in strengthening their democracy,” U.S. Ambassador Daniel Mozena said Tuesday in the capital, Luanda.
“On election day, the country was peaceful. The embassy [electoral] observation team observed no acts of voter intimidation.”
However, he added, that the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) had an advantage through favorable coverage from the state-controlled media.
Washington’s former ally, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) conceded defeat, after winning only about 10 percent of the vote in the two-day election on Friday and Saturday. The MPLA won at least 82 percent of the vote.
The United States supported UNITA throughout the 1980s as part of the Reagan Doctrine of supporting anti-communist movements around the world. The oil-rich southern African nation was the latest battleground at the time, as the MPLA was heavily backed by Cuban troops with Soviet support.
President Reagan even invited UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi to a private White House meeting in 1986. UNITA and the MPLA reached a peace accord in 1991, but fighting erupted a year later when Mr. Savimbi lost a presidential election to MPLA leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos. By that time, the MPLA had rejected its Marxist roots. Mr. Savimbi lost support from Washington and was killed in 2002.
Last week’s election was the first since 1992, and Mr. dos Santos is still president.
The Senate this week delayed approving the appointment of a new U.S. ambassador to Libya, privately citing concerns about the North African nation fulfilling its obligation to compensate American victims of its terrorist attacks.
President Bush has nominated career diplomat Gene Cretz to serve as U.S. ambassador in Tripoli, but some Senate members are holding up a confirmation hearing over concerns that Libya has yet to begin contributing to a fund worth about $2 billion to compensate victims of the 1986 bombing of a West Berlin disco and the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. The compensation fund was part of the agreement that restored diplomatic relations between Libya and the United States.
Reuters news agency quoted a “senior U.S. official” as confirming that Mr. Cretz’s appointment is on hold, at least until next week.
The United States is also supposed to contribute to the fund to compensate Libyan victims of U.S. retaliatory air strikes.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raised concerns about the money in talks last week with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The Slovak Embassy opened a condolence book Tuesday to remember the victims of a bus accident in Croatia.
The embassy expressed “great sadness” over the accident that killed 14 Slovak tourists and injured 20 Sunday on the road from the Croatian capital, Zagreb, to the Adriatic coastal city of Split.
The embassy explained that the condolence book was opened as part of a worldwide day of mourning declared by the Slovak government.
The book will remain open today from 9 a.m. to noon at the embassy, located at 3523 International Court NW.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.