Thousands Greet Mandela’s Arrival In Angola
LUANDA, Angola (AP) _ Nelson Mandela today arrived in Luanda where he was expected to brief Angolan leaders on recent talks with the South African government designed to pave the way for black-white power sharing.
In a three-day visit, the anti-apartheid leader was also expected to thank the leaders of Angola for supporting his African National Congress in its struggle against white-minority rule in South Africa.
Thousands of cheering Angolans greeted Mandela, on the first leg of a six- nation tour that will include Nigeria, Libya, Algeira, Egypt and Zambia.
The black leader is making his first visit to the Southwest African nation since his release February 11 from 27 years imprisonment.
Angola is one of six so-called frontline states opposed to the apartheid system of white-minority rule in South Africa. After independence from Portugal in 1975, the Marxist leaders allowed the ANC to operate bases in Angola.
Since 1975 the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola has fought a civil war in a bid to share power. The group, known as UNITA, was formerly supported by South Africa.
But under a 1988 regional peace accord, South Africa agreed to end aid to UNITA and granted independence to Angola’s southern neighbor, Namibia. Cuba also agreed to withdraw troops backing the Angolan government.
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos joined the crowds awaiting Mandela at Luanda’s February 4 airport.
Traditional dancers lined the route from the airport. Mandela visited the tomb of Agostinho Neto, the guerrilla leader who led Angola to independence and became its first president until his death in 1979.
Dos Santos presented Mandela with Angola’s highest honor, the Order of Agostinho Neto, and Mandela laid a wreath on Neto’s tomb.
In February, South African President F.W. de Klerk ordered Mandela’s release from prison and legalized the ANC, 30 years after it was banned. The measures came under de Klerk’s moves toward reform of the apartheid system.
De Klerk and Mandela last week agreed to work together to end political violence and clear the way for formal negotiations on a new constitution that would include South Africa’s 28 million disenfranchised blacks.
Mandela’s arrival in Angola came one day after de Klerk began a nine-nation European tour aimed at gaining international support for his reforms.