Letter: Unita's complaints about Angolan elections

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The Independent Online
Sir: Richard Dowden's article on Dr Jonas Savimbi, Unita's leader, and the recent Angolan elections ('Not as nice as he looked', 16 October) is depressingly one-sided.

His claim that Unita has lost the Angolan elections of 29-30 September is both premature and misleading. Results have not been formally announced, although there is no shortage of wild speculation on this issue. The results have not been confirmed because Unita and other parties have submitted a number of substantive complaints concerning violations of the electoral law and other serious irregularities to the National Electoral Council, UNAVEM II and the special delegation from the United Nations Security Council. These complaints are being investigated.

Such was the scale and scope of the violations of the electoral law and electoral process that action had to be taken. Unita's grievances include failure to comply with electoral procedures; premature opening of ballot boxes; the theft and removal of ballot boxes; the diversion of registration cards; the registration of persons, including Namibian civilians, who did not qualify to vote; and, incredibly, the creation of additional polling stations on the day immediately preceding the elections (contary to the electoral law).

Any results emanating from such a process could not, therefore, be judged to have been a true reflection of the democratic wishes of the Angolan people. The delay in confirming and announcing the results is a measure of how seriously the competent authorities charged with certification of the results have been treating Unita's grievances.

The elections must be seen to have been both free and fair and, moreover, the Western powers have a duty to ensure that this is the case, as, indeed, have the media. Instead of accepting the rumoured results unquestioningly, Mr Dowden should actively address the specific grievances raised by Unita and other parties and judge them in an objective light.

Finally, on Mr Dowden's allegations of human rights abuses, a little balance might have been appropriate. Whatever Unita may have been alleged to have done in the past, such allegations pale into insignificance when compared with the actual systematic abuse of individual and collective human rights perpetrated by the MPLA regime on its own citizens over the past 16 years. Has Mr Dowden really forgotten that the MPLA, until only a few months ago, was exhibiting the more extreme manifestations of an archetypal Marxist-Leninist regime? The world now is only too familiar with the methods used by such regimes to cling to power.

We continue to hope that outside observers will ensure that the Angolan people are given a genuine chance to decide their own future. It is we who must live with the consequences of recent events while others may walk away.

Yours sincerely,


Unita Deputy Representative

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola

London, W1

16 October