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Jonas Savimbi’s tomb vandalised, says Unita

Angola’s opposition Unita party accused members of the country’s ruling party of vandalising the tomb of Jonas Savimbi, the rebel leader who led a 27-year bush war against the government.

Savimbi, who is seen as a freedom fighter by some Angolans but a war criminal by many others, was killed by government troops in 2002. He is buried in a cemetery in Luena in Angola’s eastern Moxico province.

His tomb was attacked on January 3 and a bronze plaque honouring his life was stolen, according to the website of Unita, which was founded by Savimbi in 1966 and is the nation’s main opposition party.

Unita said four members of the youth wing of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) were responsible for the desecration of Savimbi’s tomb, two of whom were arrested by local police. It urged authorities to further investigate.

Officials with the MPLA, which has ruled the oil-rich southwestern African nation since independence from Portugal in 1975, were not immediately available for comment.

Tensions between the two parties have been rising as Angola moves closer toward long-delayed parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for September 5 and 6. A presidential poll is expected to follow in 2009.

Unita has accused the MPLA of engaging in an intimidation campaign designed to disrupt the opposition ahead of the elections, which would be the first since a 1992 presidential poll was aborted after a first round.

That election prompted the Savimbi-led Unita to resume its stop-start war against the government. More than one million Angolans died in the conflict, which ended shortly after Savimbi’s death. — Reuters

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