Dos Santos win prompts Savimbi threats

TENSION eased in Angola yesterday as opposition spokespersons sought to step back from Saturday's threat by Jonas Savimbi to resume his war against the government if it did not halt what he claimed were attempts to rig the country's first general elections.

Mr Savimbi's threat to resume fighting, contained in an address over Unita's 'Voice of the Black Cockerel' radio station, came as returns from legislative and presidential elections last Tuesday and Wednesday continued to show him trailing President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Residents of Luanda, who remember the bloody collapse of the transitional government in 1975 at independence from Portugal, reacted quickly to the speech, with restaurants and bars, usually very lively on Saturday night, closing early or not opening at all.

The address shocked United Nations officials and Western diplomats who helped set up the elections and the May 1991 ceasefire which ended the 16-year civil war in this country of 10 million people. Most international observers have declared the vote free and fair and have taken at face value Mr Savimbi's pre-election promises, usually made to Western diplomats, to respect the outcome of the vote. In recent weeks, however, Mr Savimbi had told journalists that only fraud could deprive him of victory and that he would not accept it.

Perhaps the most important reaction came from the United States, which has long backed Unita with official and covert military aid worth several hundred million dollars. After US officials in Luanda were unable to meet with Mr Savimbi, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen, sent him a fax on Saturday night urging him to respect the election results and to take any complaints about the vote to Angola's National Electoral Council.

Latest results yesterday showed that with nearly two-thirds of the vote counted, Mr dos Santos's lead was 53 to 37 per cent, as late returns from rural areas continued to bolster Mr Savimbi's count. Some election experts predicted Mr dos Santos would finish with 51 per cent of the vote, barely enough to avoid a run-off election. With nearly 15 per cent of the ballot papers either spoiled or left blank, they argued, Mr Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) could make a strong argument for a second round of voting.

The controversy sparked by Mr Savimbi's radio address appeared to catch Unita officials off guard, and they spent much of Saturday night and yesterday in damage control.

'It was not a declaration of war, but a warning to the government that the people will not just accept any electoral process,' said Unita's spokesman, Jorge Valentim. He repeated Mr Savimbi's accusations that the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was guilty of stealing ballot boxes and intimidating election officials.

But Mr Valentim would not support Mr Savimbi's charge that the government had manipulated the National Electoral Council, which is overseeing the poll. He said Unita had held lengthy meetings with council officials overnight and that they were investigating a number of complaints.

Leading article, page 18

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Solar PV Surveyor

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Security Officer

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This provider of commercial security solution...

Recruitment Genius: Design Consultant - Kitchen and Interiors - OTE £45,000

£17000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Executive

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A New Business Executive role s...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works