Angola: UNITA counter-attacks

Despite the loss of its historic leader, Jonas Savimbi, UNITA goes on the offensive in Malange province, central Angola.

Nine people were killed and 15 wounded in this attack on a lorry which was transporting civilians and soldiers. Among the dead was the commander of the National police Force in the council of Caculama, Lieutenant Pedro Figueiredo.

Eye-witnesses said that there were a considerable number of UNITA soldiers, armed with AKM automatic weapons, who ransacked the vehicle and the survivors after the attack which immobilised the vehicle. It is claimed that the driver was targeted first, making the vehicle turn over, and it was this that caused the victims.

Meanwhile, UNITA lives a succession crisis after the death of its historic leader. The former vice-president, General Antonio Dembo is, according to the internal statute of the party, the new leader, since these statutes promote him to interim leader in the case of incapacity of death of the former president (Dr. Savimbi).

A former breakaway faction of UNITA, called Renewed UNITA (UNITA renovada), which decided to disobey Savimbi in 1998 and create a rival faction, based in Luanda, the capital, is trying to reunite that different elements of the party to push towards a common goal. This faction is led by Eugenio Manuvakola, who calls himself “President” of UNITA, a title much contested by other members of the party.

The question now is to fight, or not to fight? In the 1992 elections, UNITA won 70 of the 222 seats in the Angolan Parliament, while MPLA, the government faction, won the majority of the other seats. If there were an election now, UNITA would present itself as a divided party. If UNITA has to wait the year and a half to two years for the next elections (the regular time for the next electoral process), and a cease-fire has not previously been announced, MPLA will order the Angolan Armed Forces to proceed with the military offensive until most, if not all, the UNITA leadership has been killed.

The result in this scenario will be yet another single party state in Africa.