Angola

Savimbi funeral 'to go ahead on Saturday'

Jonas Savimbi
AFP
Jonas Savimbi was killed in a battle with government forces in 2002

Angola's main opposition party, Unita, has moved to cool tensions over the handling of the remains of former leader Jonas Savimbi, AFP news agency reports.

On Wednesday we reported on the row between the government and the opposition over the planned re-burial of the rebel leader, whose death 17 years ago brought an end to nearly three decades of civil war.

The government was due to have handed over Savimbi's body to representatives of Unita so that he may be buried in his hometown on 1 June.

However, the handover did not happen - and both sides blamed each other.

But following a meeting between Savimbi's family and Unita, the party had said the burial will still go ahead on Saturday, Unita spokesman Alcides Sakala Simoes is quoted by AFP as saying.

"We are calling for calm," Mr Simoes said.

Angola feud over body of rebel leader Savimbi

AFP
AFP
Jonas Savimbi was accused of committing atrocities as rebel leader - claims denied by his supporters

A row has erupted between the Angolan government and the opposition over the planned re-burial of Jonas Savimbi, leader of the Unita rebel movement, whose death 17 years ago brought an end to nearly three decades of civil war.

The government was due to have handed over Savimbi's body to representatives of Unita, which is now an opposition party, so that he may be buried in his hometown on 1 June.

However, the handover did not happen - and both sides are now blaming each other.

Helena Savimbi, one of the rebel leader's daughters, told AFP news agency that the government was not respecting accords. "It's total confusion," she is quoted as saying.

The government has in turn accused Unita of failing to collect the body on Tuesday, as agreed.

Unita rebel in 1990
Hulton Archive
Unita rebels, backed by the US and South Africa, fought Angola's MPLA for 27 years - one of the Cold War's longest conflicts

Savimbi was killed in a battle with government forces in 2002, and buried in Angola's eastern Moxico province. His death led to a peace deal, and the eventual inclusion of the rebels in the political process.

As the main opposition party, Unita has been campaigning for Savimbi to receive proper funeral.

The exhumed body was due to have been handed over in Luena, the capital of Moxico province, on Tuesday.

But according to a Unita spokesman, Alcides Sakala Simoes, the government changed the plan "at the last minute", saying the handover would take place in "Kuito and finally Andulo" - both towns in central Angola.

"We don't know where the body is... they are trying to humiliate Unita," he told the AFP news agency. "This will not help the process of national reconstruction."

However, Minister of State Pedro Sebastiao dismissed the claim.

According to the state-run Angola Press agency, he said the body had been taken to Luena as arranged but as Unita had not been there for the handover, it had left at a military barracks for collection.

Read: Angola country profile

Read: Savimbi's family loses Call of Duty case

Malnutrition soars in Angola after drought

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The United Nations children's fund says 2.3 million people do not have enough food due to a severe drought in Angola.

Thousands are being treated for malnutrition.

The drought is particularly bad in southern Angola, where the number of people in need of aid has trebled since the beginning of the year.

The oil-rich country has been in an economic crisis since the price of oil fell in 2014.

Inspired by an African leader from 400 years ago

Why Queen Njinga is seen as Angola’s ‘mother of the nation’
Two experts on 17th-century African history, professors Linda Heywood and Roquinaldo Ferreira tell Rajan Datar how Queen Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba inspired not just the 20th-century fight for Angolan independence but also today’s pride in Brazil’s African cultural heritage.

(Photo: A detail from Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo's 1668 manuscript Missione evangelica nel Regno de Congo showing Queen Njinga with bow and arrow and battle axe. Credit: Vincenzo Negro)

Son of Angolan ex-president released from jail

José Filomeno dos Santos
BBC
José Filomeno dos Santos was accused of embezzling $1.5bn of state funds

The son of the former Angolan president has been released from prison, where he was being held on charges of embezzlement.

José Filomeno dos Santos had been detained for seven months.

He was accused of attempting to steal $1.5bn (£1.1bn) when he was head of Angola's sovereign wealth fund.

He was appointed to that role in 2013 by his father, who was president at the time. But he was sacked last year by current President João Lourenço who came to power in 2017.

On Friday, prosecutors announced they had recovered all the financial and other assets of the Angolan sovereign wealth fund.

Mr dos Santos' lawyer said the legality of his client's detention had expired weeks ago.

Tarantula with unexplained 'horn' discovered in Angola

The 'peculiar' horn is currently unexplained
A research team in Angola has discovered a new species of tarantula, notable for the 'peculiar' horn on its top side.

The spider belongs to a group known as horned baboon spiders, but the horn on the new discovery is significantly longer than has been seen before. It is still unknown what the protrusion is made of or why the tarantula has evolved this way.

Dr John Midgley from the KwaZulu-Natal Museum in South Africa made the discovery.

(Photo: The newly deiscovered Ceratogyrus Attonitifer spider. Credit: Dr Ian Enelbrecht)