Angolan election results clouded by victory claim

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ANGOLA'S political crisis was expected to deepen today after a nationwide address last night by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos which was a tacit claim of victory in the country's first general elections.

In his address, Mr dos Santos said the final results of the 29-30 September legislative and presidential elections would be published today. His statement contradicted officials of the national electoral commission and Western diplomats who said yesterday that the results would not be announced until a mission from the UN Security Council arrived from New York in the next two years.

Seven parties, including Jonas Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), called on the government yesterday to postpone publishing the election results until investigations into charges of vote-rigging had been completed.

Mr dos Santos said he would ask Mr Savimbi to a meeting to discuss the future of the country. 'Unita and the other political parties have an indispensable role to play in the country, and will be called upon to make their contribution,' he said. 'Those who want to return to war know that they will meet with the condemnation of the Angolan people and the international community.'

Tension in the capital, Luanda, heightened in the past 48 hours following Mr Savimbi's secret departure on Wednesday for the city of Huambo, political capital of the Central Highlands region, home of the pro-Unita Ovimbundu people. Huambo is where Mr Savimbi in 1975 declared a 'democratic republic of Angola' at the outbreak of the civil war against the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).

Senior Unita officials followed Mr Savimbi to Huambo yesterday as did, according to diplomatic sources, the co-Chief of Staff of the new unified army, the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA). Unita withdrew from the FAA on Monday in protest at what Mr Savimbi claimed were fraudulent elections on 29-30 September.

As well as the UN Security Council committee, the South African Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, was reported ready to visit.

Mr Savimbi has refused to meet the special representative of the UN Secretary-General, Margaret Anstee. In the last provisional results, President dos Santos was leading Mr Savimbi by 50.8 to 39 per cent in the presidential polls, and the MPLA had a 55 to 33 per cent lead over Unita in the parliamentary elections.