Angola: UNITA successor dead

General Antonio Dembo, Vice-president of the rebel movement UNITA and deputy of Dr. Jonas Savimbi, the founder of the movement, who was killed on 22nd February, has been declared dead by a UNITA prisoner.

The death of Antonio Dembo came three days after the historic leader of UNITA, Dr. Jonas Savimbi, killed by the Angolan Armed Forces in an ambush in Fenruary. General Dembo, it is claimed, did not survive the wounds he received during the attack and was buried in Luena, eastern Angola.

The information was given by an unnamed UNITA rebel, captured in Moxico during the same offensive in which Dr. Savimbi was killed. A committee is being set up by the Angolan Armed Forces to confirm the claims. At present, the Angolan Armed Forces and government party, MPLA, do not want to be seen as performing a campaign to annihilate the UNITA leadership, but rather as the party which has always pressed for peace, however inaccurate this reading of events may be.

The 58-year-old Antonio Dembo was considered as a brilliant military strategist, who joined UNITA in 1969. He replaced Jeremias Chitunda as Vice-President of UNITA after the massacre of UNITA leaders in Luanda by MPLA supporters after an inconclusive first round of the presidential election in 1992.

The new leader of UNITA should be either General Paulo Lukamba Gato or Abel Chivukuvuku. In 1997, in Andulo, Jonas Savimbi held an internal conference to discuss the succession of power in UNITA in the event of his death. It was decided that Antonio Dembo would succeed him as President, with Lukamba Gato as Vice-President and Abel Chivukuvuku as General-Secretary.

Although General Lukamba Gato would be the natural successor under UNITA’s internal rules, his whereabouts is not clear at present, while Chivukuvuku is present in Luanda.

For there to be peace in Angola, UNITA has to have an interlocutor to lead the negotiations with the government.


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