Angolan police fire teargas to disperse UNITA protest

unitaAngolan police fired tear gas and warning shots on Saturday to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters demonstrating in the capital against the disappearance and possible murder of two anti-government activists.

The ruling MPLA party this week accused the main UNITA opposition group of promoting “chaos and anarchy” with its plans for nationwide rallies to tap into public anger in Africa’s number two oil producer at the two disappearances.

Prosecutors said last week that Isaias Cassule and Antonio Alves Camulingui, who were involved in organising protests by former presidential guards to demand payment of wage arrears, had been kidnapped and possibly murdered in May 2012.

In the capital, demonstrators were met by phalanxes of heavily armed riot police, some on horseback, who charged the crowds when youths started throwing stones. Former rebel group UNITA lost a 27-year civil war to the MPLA in 2002 and has since been trounced in two elections.

It has long accused President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of suppressing human rights and using excessive violence to clamp down on dissent during his 34-year rule. The MPLA said dos Santos had ordered an investigation into the disappearances and all those found responsible would be punished.

The MPLA also alleged that UNITA has been inspired by opposition Renamo guerrillas in Mozambique, another former Portuguese African colony, who have staged attacks in recent months after two decades of peace following a devastating 1975-1992 civil war. – Reuters