Angola’s UNITA denies organising anti-gov’t rallies


Angola’s main opposition party, UNITA, denied organising any of the protests calling on the long-serving president to resign, the state news agency Angop quoted party leader Isaias Samakuva as saying.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has held power in oil-producing Angola for more than 32 years, but has this year faced unprecedented dissent from a burgeoning youth movement.
“Protest rallies are a right of the people and permitted by the constitution, but UNITA has not organised any yet,” Angop cited Samakuva as saying after meeting Dos Santos, Reuters reports.

Inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia earlier this year, Angola’s youth movement has organised five rallies in the capital, Luanda, and media reports said police blocked hundreds of protesters from holding a sixth rally last weekend.

UNITA has accused the government of using violence to suppress the demonstrations, particularly after a Sept. 3 rally ended in violent clashes and 24 arrests.

On Tuesday Dos Santos denied his administration was a dictatorship and urged the youths to resolve their problems with the government through dialogue.

A senior MPLA figure accused UNITA last month of planning a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience to oust the president.

Dos Santos’ MPLA party won a 27-year civil war against UNITA in 2002 and won 82 percent of the vote in a 2008 general election, but has long been accused of mismanaging oil revenues and doing little to fight graft and poverty in Africa’s second biggest oil producer after Nigeria.

Still, with UNITA in disarray because of a leadership dispute, the MPLA is favoured to win another election next year.