UNITA Threatens War If Angolan Vote Results Released
LUANDA, Angola (AP) _ Rebels who fought the government in a 16-year civil war threatened today to resume ″immediate war″ if disputed results from last month’s elections are published.
Elias Salupeto Pena, a leader in the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, repeated claims of vote fraud and called for Angola’s first multiparty election to be annulled.
″The situation is so grave we cannot imagine the publication of such fraudulent results because this will mean immediate war,″ Salupeto Pena told Portugal’s Antena 1 radio.
Electoral officials have delayed publication of the results to allow time to investigate UNITA’s fraud claims, but they are expected to announce the winner from the Sept. 29-30 balloting this week.
The latest partial results, which were released last week, showed President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, ahead of UNITA’s Jonas Savimbi.
On Sunday, heavy fighting flared between police and UNITA supporters in central Luanda, the Angolan capital. The battles concentrated around a hotel, used as a UNITA base, that was rocked by a bomb Sunday.
Witnesses said UNITA opened fire with grenade launchers, machine guns and mortars after two men in an unmarked car shot and injured two UNITA guards at the hotel. One policeman and three civilians were reported killed.
Salupeto Pena said today the incident had prevented UNITA officials from traveling to the provinces to look into the fraud claims.
He charged the investigation ″had been completely disturbed,″ and said annulling the elections was the only way to save the country from catastrophe.
Salupeto Pena is UNITA’s chief representative on a commission monitoring the truce that also includes officials from the MPLA and observers from the three nations that mediated the peace accords - Portugal, Russia and the United States.
MPLA officials accused UNITA of staging the shootout to raise tension.
″They are waving the specter of war,″ said MPLA spokesman Joao Lourenco.
The United Nations is scheduled to rule on the fairness of the election after the final results are released. Most of the 800 international observers who covered the vote said it was generally free and fair.
A special Security Council mission continued its work today in Luanda after visiting Savimbi on Sunday in the central city of Huambo. Also today, South African Foreign Minister Roelof ″Pik″ Botha was expected to arrive to discuss a peaceful solution.
South Africa and Washington backed UNITA during the civil war, while the Soviet Union and Cuba supported the Angolan government.
However, both of Savimbi’s former backers have improved relations with the government since dos Santos began leading the country away from Marxism two years ago.