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Vol 43 No 20

Published 11th October 2002


Neutering UNITA

President Dos Santos' ruling MPLA is glad of victory in the war against UNITA but resists other kinds of change

Eight months after the violent death of Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, the oil-financed élite of the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola is neutering his União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (AC Vol 43 Nos 8 & 12). The UNITA-Renovada splinter group, formed by Eugenio Manuvakola in 1998 to rival Savimbi's UNITA, was badly weakened when Manuvakola stepped down on 30 July. His successor, Jorge Alicerces Valentim, has a big mouth, little charisma and no real support. The MPLA has put most other UNITA leaders into a gilded cage. Mainstream UNITA still has strong popular support, mainly but not entirely among the highland Ovimbundu people ­ although its interim leader, General Paulo Lukamba 'Gato', does not command the same fear-filled affection as his late predecessor. A party congress, possibly in mid-2003, will elect a new leader. There is talk of links with smaller parties, including the northern, Bakongo-dominated, Frente Nacional para a Libertação de Angola, whose veteran chief, Holden Roberto, is old, tired and undermined both by state propaganda and by his aspiring successor, Lucas Ngonda. Another possible ally is the Partido do Renovação Social (PRS), strong in the north-eastern diamond regions.

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