A senior figure in Angola’s ruling MPLA party accused main opposition party UNITA of planning a nationwide civil disobedience campaign to oust the president, state news agency Angop reported.
The agency cited Bento Bento, head of President Jose Eduardo’s party in Luanda, as saying UNITA leads a coalition of opposition parties in planning a civil disobedience campaign against authorities simultaneously in five Angolan cities.
“As they cannot through elections reach that objective (ousting the president), they seek to do it through a national insurrection,” it citing Bento Bento, who is a member of the party’s powerful political bureau, as saying, Reuters reports.
Inspired by uprisings in north Africa, a pro-democracy rally — the third organised this year — gathered around 200 youths in Luanda on Sept. 3 and resulted in the arrest of 24 youths and injuries to protesters, journalists and police officers during violent clashes.
An Angolan court on Monday sentenced 17 of the protesters to up to three months in prison, while another 27 people who protested outside the courtroom during that trial are set to be sentenced on Friday.
Political tension is rising ahead of a election planned for 2012 in a country which is Africa’s biggest oil producer after Nigeria and where an estimated two-thirds of a population of 16.5 million people live on less than $2 per day.
Dos Santos’ MPLA party, which in 2002 won the 27 year-long civil war against UNITA and then obtained 82 percent of the vote in the 2008 election, has long been accused of mismanaging the country’s oil revenues, avoiding public scrutiny and doing too little to fight corruption.
UNITA has said it did not help organise the rally, but has defended the right to protest and called for the immediate release of all the arrested protesters, while rights organisations, including New York-based Human Rights Watch, urged the government to stop using force against demonstrators.
Still, Bento Bento accused UNITA of taking advantage of the rally, using it “as a small rehearsal … and now trying to implement a diabolical plan of simultaneous disobedience acts in five cities”.
No one at UNITA was immediately available for comment.
Angola’s Foreign Minister George Chikoti warned in Lisbon on Thursday that the situation could get out of control.
“Those who go out onto the streets are not necessarily right, but this can create a situation which cannot later be resolved, neither by the armed forces nor by the police,” the minister said.