Fatal Victims in Clashes Between UNITA and MPLA

By António Capalandanda and Rafael Marques de Morais: Over the last few months there has been an increase in the level of violence between the ruling MPLA and UNITA supporters in Huambo and Benguela. These two provinces are electoral battlegrounds of extreme political symbolism for the two largest national political parties. Sparse coverage in the media and a lack of dialogue across society regarding this increasing tension foreshadows a climate of mistrust amongst citizens and growing fear with regard to the upcoming elections on August 31, as well as its aftermath. Maka Angola brings to light some recent incidents so that the public can be better informed about current focal points of tension. Supporters from both the MPLA and UNITA, and especially their leaderships, share a burden of increased responsibility in promoting political stability and maintaining peace. Three serious incidents took place in the province of Huambo in just two days. […]

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Demobilized Soldiers Protest in Luanda

Up to 3,000 demobilized soldiers staged a surprising protest today, in the capital Luanda, marching towards the presidential palace. They went to claim disability pensions and the dues owed to them for years of military service. Initially, the group departed at around 9 am from the general headquarters of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), and walked almost three kilometers to the gates of the Ministry of Defense, which is just a few hundred meters from the presidential palace. With remarkable organizational and tactical skills, the former soldiers pushed through three barriers strongly manned by the presidential guard and riot police, and fought off the police batons and the canine brigade with kicks. At least two protesters were reported injured by the dogs. For up to an hour, a standoff ensued in front of the Ministry of Defense, where the presidential guard, the riot police, the canine brigade, strongly armed military […]

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Former Soldiers Postpone Demonstration in Lubango

More than 500 demobilized soldiers of the former People’s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) gathered today in the João de Almeida neighborhood of Lubango, in Huíla province, for a protest march calling for the payment of pensions that have been owed to them for 20 years. FAPLA was the army of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and upon independence in 1975 became the armed forces of the one-party state. They were incorporated into the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) in 1992 in the context of the Bicesse Peace Agreements. The Angolan Independent Forum for War Demobilised (FIDEGA) was responsible for the initiative. According to its chairman, lieutenant-colonel Manuel Nunes, at the last minute FIDEGA decided to cancel the march after briefing his colleagues about the meeting he had had the previous day with the commander of the Southern Military Region. “Yesterday afternoon lieutenant-general Tchiloya […]

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Isaias Samakuva’s Fortune and the Call for Transparency

By Rob Pires: It all began with a photograph, published on facebook, of a house in a drab London suburb. A well-known pro-government social media activist, who goes by the name of ManDavid, claimed that it belonged to the UNITA leader, Isaias Samakuva. The UNITA leader, went the argument, was not poor. Several locations picked up on 192.com, a website that gives London addresses, were connected to people with the Samakuva surname. The activist claimed that the UNITA leader had bought all these London properties with party funds. The UNITA leader’s response was swift. He claimed that he was not “farinha do mesmo saco” (“flower from the same bag”) as his opponents in the ruling party. There have been well-documented allegations of corruption against several members of the ruling party. Samakuva claimed that he was going to declare all his possessions before June 19. True to his word, the UNITA […]

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The (Un)popularity and Success of Dos Santos

The electoral campaign kick-off held by the MPLA last Saturday, June 23, remains a topic of concern due mainly by its propaganda coverage by the state media. The rally, in the November 11 Stadium in Luanda, sought to demonstrate the popularity of the MPLA’s presidential candidate, José Eduardo dos Santos. Since March 2011, the image of the president of the MPLA has been damaged by symbolic and successive protests, held by a handful of youths, who have demanded his resignation after 32 years in power. The significance of these protests can be found on the international stage, especially in North Africa, where three dictators – Ben Ali, Mubarak and Ghaddafi – were deposed by popular uprisings. Initially, the MPLA reacted with counter-demonstrations, as the one held March 5, 2011, when more than 100,000 people were mobilized, in a multi-million dollar investment. This reaction was caused by the first demonstration against […]

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Gunfire Used to Disperse Former Soldiers’ Protest

Hundreds of former soldiers staged a protest that caused panic in Luanda on the morning of 20 June. The war veterans were demanding payment of their pensions, some of which were 20 years in arrears. A large contingent of Rapid Intervention Police and Military Police used teargas and batons to disperse a group that had gathered at the Largo de Maianga traffic intersection with the intention of marching to the Presidential Palace. Some of the protesters threw stones at the police. Some 50 war-widows also joined the protest, demanding the pensions that are owed to them. Another group marched towards the American Embassy before being stopped near the Alto das Cruzes cemetery, again by police using teargas and batons. The authorities also used mounted brigades, canine squadrons and water canons, among other anti-riot measures As a preventive measure, the presidential guard reinforced the security apparatus around the Presidential Palace and […]

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Political Kidnappings in Angola

A group of former presidential guards had planned to march towards the presidential palace, on May 27, in protest against the social and economic conditions in which they were living. The date is filled with symbolism. In 1977, a march towards the presidential palace was used to justify the massacre of tens of thousands of people by the late president Agostinho Neto and his supporters, as a purported measure against a coup attempt. The tragedy of May 27 is still an open wound in Angolan society and a traumatizing event for many families who never recovered the bodies of their loved ones or knew what happen to them. The protest of last week did not materialize as the Military Bureau of the Presidency (Casa Militar) and the Presidencial Guard Unit (UGP) met with the leaders to address their concerns. But, on the same day, a local FM broadcaster, Radio Despertar, […]

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Manuel Vicente: Transparently Corrupt

By Ana Silva   The scheduling of Election Day on August 31 casts a new light on the recent press conference that presented the Performance Report on Executive Activity for the first quarter of 2012. Manuel Vicente, Minister of State for Economic Coordination, lavished detailed praise on the government’s economic advances during his presentation to the media. He referred to newly constructed factories, schools and social housing, as well as investments in transportation infrastructure, and highlighted the launch of provincial radio broadcasters and regional television stations. The minister’s account may have led casual observers to believe that Angola is enjoying a period of true social and economic progress. The country’s economic growth is unequalled, thanks above all to the rise in oil production and prices on the international market. Yet the scene that Vicente described left out the vast majority of Angola’s population, which continues to live in abject misery, […]

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Multimillion-dollar Retirement in the FAA

During the course of this year, several army generals of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) will be demobilized, as part of a retirement scheme set in motion by the Commander-in-Chief, the president José Eduardo dos Santos. According to a source from the FAA General Staff, “this year alone 14 generals should be demobilised, and next year a further 20 will be retired”. Among the officers notified for retirement, the most prominent are general Rafael Sapilinha Sambalanga, Inspector-General of the Ministry of Defense; general Eduardo Martins, advisor to the Minister of Defense; general Fernando Araújo, former head of Weapons Procurement Main Directorate; general Aires Africano, head of Health Services of the General Staff; general António Filomeno Carvalho Pereira, former head of Special Forces of Central Command of Operations. According to the source, who prefers to remain anonymous, the Commander-in-Chief has stated the “ageing” of the officers to be demobilised and the […]

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Deloitte Angola: Auditing and Conflict of Interest

Elections in Angola are only three months away. More attention needs to be given to how they will be carried out, if the processes of voting and counting are to respect the will of the people. In order for citizens to be better informed, the electoral process deserves a deeper and more independent discussion, one which goes beyond official statements and the claims of the opposition. The most recent and significant event in the run-up to elections has to do with the Territorial Administration Ministry’s (MAT) handing over of the Electoral Register Central Database (FICRE) to the National Electoral Commission (CNE) on 15 May. FICRE contains the details of more than 9.7 million voters. According to the Law on General Elections, the transfer of custody and management of FICRE, which contains all the data related to the electoral process, “is preceded by an audit to be performed by an independent […]

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