Questions, Answers About Fighting in Angola With AM-Angola, Bjt LISBON, Portugal
(AP) - A look at the unrest in Angola:
--- WHO’S FIGHTING? The former rebel group UNITA (AP) _ - WHO’S FIGHTING?
The former rebel group UNITA, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, has an estimated 30,000 soldiers ranged against government forces which include heavily armed police units.
The government claims to have demobilized most of its army under last year’s peace accords but is believed to have troops in reserve. The air force is loyal to the government.
The two sides fought a 16-year civil war from 1975 when Angola gained independence from Portugal. The government was backed by Cuban soldiers and Soviet arms. South Africa sent troops and the United States weapons to back UNITA. At least 350,000 people died in the fighting.
--- WHAT’S AT STAKE?
UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi threatened to fight after contesting results from first multiparty elections, held in September. His men seized territory and the government claims Savimbi wants to grab power. Clashes have been reported in several provinces.
The Sept. 29-30 election resulted from peace accords signed last year.
UNITA declared the elections fraudulent despite a United Nations declaration they were generally free and fair.
Savimbi has a chance to contest a runoff vote with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who fell short of the 50 percent needed for a first round win.
In parliamentary elections the former communists of dos Santos’ Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, won 53.74 percent against 34.1 percent for UNITA, smaller parties shared the rest.
--- WHAT’S THE INTERNATIONAL REACTION?
The United States has criticized Savimbi’s bellicose stance and urged its former protege to accept the election results.
Portugal, Russia and the United States continue efforts to seek a peaceful solution, encouraging talks between the two factions. The three nations brokered the peace accords.
South Africa has also sought to mediate.
The U.N. has pressed UNITA to respect the vote and U.N. monitors in Angola have tried to negotiate local cease-fires.