Angolan main opposition Unita party is demanding better recognition of its founder Jonas Savimbi.

Jonas Savimbi.jpg
Jonas Savimbi.

Angolan main opposition Unita party is demanding better recognition of its founder Jonas Savimbi.

Unita’s President Isaías Samakuva regretted that the ruling MPLA party had a tendency of denigrating Dr Savimbi’s image.

Mr Samakuva expressed the sentiments in his address to journalists during the first national conference in memory of Dr Savimbi at Talatona Luanda in southern Luanda Saturday.

“He was an unapologetic nationalist who always defended Angola’s unity and never betrayed the country and never allowed himself to be corrupted,” he said.

Party secretary-general Franco Marcolino Nhany said: “Unita wants Savimbi to be elevated to national hero.”

Government forces

Dr Savimbi was killed in a battle against the government forces in Lucusse region on February 22, 2002, aged 67.

His body was buried in Luena city, the capital of Moxico Province, in east central Angola.

Dr Savimbi’s remains are scheduled to will be re-buried at Lopitanga Village in Central Bié Province on April 6.

Last month, Dr Savimbi’s body was exhumed for DNA tests tests in Angolan, South African and Portuguese laboratories.

The guerrilla war leader was reportedly survived by 30 sons, the vast majority of who were living abroad.

A peace deal

The controversial but charismatic Dr Savimbi founded the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) in 1966.

He led Unita in a 27-year civil war with the Angolan government, before transitioning into the main opposition party.

The Unita leader’s death paved the way for a peace deal that ended one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil conflicts, which erupted after independence from Portugal in 1975.

The war left at least half a million people dead and some four million civilians displaced in the oil-rich nation.