The Elections in Angola
The front-page article "Angolan President Urges US Role to Help End Renewed Civil War," Jan. 25, is a prescription for intensifying the fighting presently raging in my country. The unelected Angolan President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, called on the United Nations to declare the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) a "terrorist organization."
This movement would give the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which currently dominates the government, an internationally sanctioned license to declare UNITA illegal. It would also remove the only significant opposition force in the country, which won 70 of the 221 seats in the national legislature.
Mr. Dos Santos - who did not receive the constitutionally mandated 50 percent plus one votes needed to win the presidency - could also avoid a presidential runoff required by the law that the previous one-party legislature passed. The result would be a de facto one-party state.
Although the elections were declared free and fair by the UN, and seconded by the United States, the majority of the opposition parties, including bitter rivals of UNITA, joined hands to declare them fraudulent. Their complaints were given scant attention, a cursory 48-hour investigation by a harried UN mission. Internal UN documents indicate that its own investigators generally supported the opposition claims.
The article states that Jonas Savimbi called the vote fraudulent and renewed the fighting. The real military conflagration started in Luanda on Oct. 31, when MPLA commandos, misnamed the anti-riot police, launched attacks against UNITA. This MPLA-sponsored violence resulted in the deaths of 6,000 people. This ethnic cleansing was the real start of the war.
The MPLA's call for US recognition of the present Angolan government must be examined closely. Recognition will not end the government-instigated fighting or put an end to MPLA-inspired pogroms. It would encourage MPLA intransigence to pursue the long-term dream of recreating UNITA without Jonas Savimbi, a man who received almost 40 percent of the presidential vote in a disputed election. Jardo Muekalia, Washington Chief Representative to the US, UNITA
Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.