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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 2/22/2002 11:30:19 PM EST
So says the Angolan Army. One of the last of the African Cold Warriors.
Angolan Army: Rebel Leader Is Dead Fri Feb 22, 6:07 PM ET By CASIMIRO SIONA, Associated Press Writer LUANDA, Angola - Jonas Savimbi, leader of the rebel group that has fought the government and frustrated peace efforts for nearly three decades, was killed Friday in a military attack on UNITA forces in southeast Angola, the army and government said. Photos AP Photo The armed forces said Savimbi, 67, died around 3 p.m. in an offensive in Moxico province. There was no independent confirmation of the claim. UNITA officials, who are hiding in the Angolan bush, were not available for comment. If confirmed, Savimbi's death could open the way for long-lasting peace in the southwest African country where civil war has raged off and on for 27 years. Half a million people are believed to have died because of the war, though there are no confirmed figures. About 4 million people — roughly one-third of the population — have been driven from their homes by the fighting. Savimbi's animosity toward President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled since 1977, has repeatedly frustrated international efforts to end the fighting. Three peace deals have collapsed. The government said Friday it was ready to fully implement a 1994 peace accord calling for regular democratic elections. Aldemiro Vaz de Conceicao, spokesman for President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, said the army was holding Savimbi's body in Moxico. "We're going to broadcast television footage of the body," Vaz de Conceicao told The Associated Press by telephone. The footage wasn't expected to arrive in Luanda until Saturday because of bad weather. In several neighborhoods, local residents hooted their car horns in celebration Friday. Police urged calm. Two police helicopters hovered over the coastal city, and red tracers from automatic weapons fired by the presidential guard streaked across the night sky. Several thousand elite troops were guarding the presidential palace on the outskirts of the capital. It was not clear whether anyone from UNITA's ranks could replace Savimbi. UNITA vice president Antonio Dembo and Savimbi's close aide Paulo Lukamba Gato are believed to be alive and hiding in rural Angola. His death could also prompt a power struggle within the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, which was united by the fight against Savimbi. The army in recent months has said it was closing in on Savimbi's column, which was moving through the rural province of Moxico, about 480 miles southeast of Luanda. Savimbi had not been seen for several years.
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Link Posted: 2/22/2002 11:31:36 PM EST
UNITA is believed to have a stockpile of diamonds, sold on the international black market, that has allowed it to keep fighting despite U.N. oil and arms sanctions. The government has financed its war through offshore oil production. Human rights groups accuse both sides of atrocities. Born into a poor family in the village of Munhango in Angola's central highlands, Savimbi was a university-educated guerrilla who spoke three African languages and four European languages. He founded UNITA, the Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, in 1966 to battle the colonial Portuguese administration, and ruled the group ruthlessly for three decades. Civil war first erupted after the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975. At the time, the MPLA, emboldened by Cuban military might, launched an offensive, driving Savimbi deep into the bush in what became known as the movement's fabled "Long March." UNITA regrouped, and began receiving the support of South African troops and CIA (news - web sites) covert aid. Savimbi became a key player in the Cold War struggle for dominance in Africa, becoming a proxy for the United States and South Africa in the battle against the Marxist government. In 1986, the rebel leader traveled to Washington, where he was received like a head of state by then-President Ronald Reagan (news - web sites). Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester A. Crocker said Savimbi had "a world-class strategic mind." "It was difficult not to be impressed by this Angolan, who combined the qualities of warlord, paramount chief, demagogue, and statesman," Crocker wrote in his 1992 book "High Noon in Southern Africa." However, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the government dropped its Marxist policies and began aligning itself more closely to the United States, prompting U.S. oil companies to invest billions of dollars in the country and Western powers to push for democracy. In 1992, Savimbi rejected his loss in Angola's first-ever elections and returned to war, earning himself international isolation. In 1994, the United Nations (news - web sites) brokered a peace accord, but the accord collapsed four years later, launching the country back into civil war. Over two decades of warfare, Savimbi amassed a fighting force of more than 60,000 men but, crucially, always lacked the MPLA's air power
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Link Posted: 2/23/2002 9:39:13 PM EST
He was abandoned long ago. Something of a miracle he survived this long. Didn't the ANC boyz in Pretoria put the White mercs on him?
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