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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 12:17 GMT
Savimbi death: What next for Angola?
The death of veteran Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi has been confirmed with television footage of his bullet-riddled body.
Mr Savimbi's body was shown to reporters in Lucusse, a remote town in Moxico province, eastern Angola. Western media screened the pictures on Saturday.
The Angolan state news agency Angop said Mr Savimbi, 67 - who has led the Unita rebel movement for more than 30 years - died in fighting with government troops on Friday.
The BBC's Justin Pearce in Luanda says that although Jonas Savimbi was the driving force behind the long-running war in Angola, his death will not end the conflict automatically.
What is your reaction to Jonas Savimbi's death? What are the implications for Angola? Can a peaceful end ever come to one of Africa's longest wars?
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
Hopefully we are witnessing a turning point in one of the last vestiges of Cold War fuelled conflicts. Angolans will at last look forward to the future with renewed hope and better prospects for peace.
Savimbi missed his date with destiny when he refused the offer of vice-presidency of Angola, even though he lost the elections. Apparently, only the post of president was good enough for him.
Savimbi lived by the sword, and died by the sword. Angolans should now direct their energies on achieving lasting peace.
Joseph U Igietseme, Atlanta, USA
Savimbi's demise should be a pretext of real democracy for the Angolan people. Definitely this death spells a turning point for Angolan politics. I hope the people of Angola will work together to foster a future of reason and enlightenment.
The death of Jonas Savimbi will surely have profound implications for Angolan unity. But as the great Winston Churchill said: "This is not the end nor is it the beginning of the end but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Peace in Angola will doubtless come but as with any peace process it'll take time.
The MPLA Angolan Government must be very worried now.
Without any war, whom will they blame for their failure to pass on any of the benefits of the country's enormous wealth to its people.
Expectations have been set high - hence the jubilation in Luanda. Now that Savimbi is dead, we will see some oil revenue trickling through the system.
Either certain people must adapt to a lower standard of living, or the people will be very displeased in four years time.
K C Carvalho, England
Savimbi's death is a new path for Angola but the implications will be hard on the Europe since Savimbi was a true lackey of the Western Europe and in some ways the USA due to his way of supplying the western world with diamonds. The economies of Belgium India and Japan may be affected due to the rise in the cost of the diamonds yet the winner will be the Angolan people provided the government choose to use the arrears for the people of Angola or else another war lord will appear and the diamond trade will continue
The death of Savimbi is surely a positive step to a stable solution for peace in Angola. For fear of refuelling the UNITA rebels with the desire to continue the war and violence, the international media must focus on the good that can come out of this event. To think that with the death of Savimbi Angola may have lost its chance to a peaceful solution is not only too pessimistic but can be a catalyst to more violence. The media should now try to expose the role those who supported Savimbi played in this 27 year old civil war. This will help deter them from pursuing their interests through another evil man. Our positive and optimistic outlook on this event and on the future of Angola will help the Angolans see what a great chance they have got. Any pessimistic approach will easily fuel future disaster.
Jonas Savimbi lived his life by the gun and has disgracefully died by it. His demise has created an opportunity for the Angolan people to embrace peace for their own good. No doubt the path to final peace will be rugged particularly in transforming the thinking of the majority after experiencing war for more than three decades. The rest of UNITA should also embrace this opportunity to bring peace to their people.
I disagree with Soji from Germany that the current Angolan government should disband. You forget that Europe, particularly Portugal, and the USA supported Savimbi throughout the Cold War. The reason that
Angola is where it is now is largely because of the Cold War. It is foolish for Africans to expect that the UN will solve their problems. What is now needed in Angola is national reconciliation. There are a number of African countries that can help in stabilising Angola. Western nations have been busy dividing Africa and international forces for Africa are not efficient as Soji claims. The Rwanda genocide happened under the so-called efficient European presence in Rwanda. They simply fled when the going became tougher.
In truth, I am not glad about Mr Savimbi's death. Who will be the next victim?
Henry Matovu, Uganda
Hopefully peace, healing and rebuilding will return to Angola after Savimbi. I hope the next so-called liberator to follow will be Charles Taylor of Liberia.
I believe that this is a positive development for two reasons. Firstly, because for far too long the people of Angola have been the innocent pawns in a mad international conspiracy to keep their country divided for one reason or another. They surely deserve peace and Savimbi was an obstacle to that. Secondly, a new dispensation means that Angola will rightfully take its place as an economic powerhouse in Africa, and this is going to benefit the region by providing competition for South Africa. But first, the equally painful reconstruction of a wealthy nation of beautiful people and its schools, hospitals, roads and ultimately democracy.
Allan Dewar, South Africa
Please, President Dos Santos, if the rebel leader Savimbi is actually dead then you have to look in the eyes of every suffering Angolan child and use this opportunity to provide peace, joy and freedom to the children and the entire people of Angola.
One obstacle is out of the way to obtaining true and real peace for that part of the world. There's still a long way to go, but this is indeed a significant change for Angola as a whole.
The MPLA now have no more excuse for not providing basic services for the people of Angola. Failing to do so will result in another civil war.
If history is anything to go by, than the death of Mr Savimbi is a blessing in disguise for the people of Angola. We all know that the war in Angola has gone for far too long now. Savimbi continued to be the singular force behind prolonging the war because of his thirst for power. Like Nigeria, though a little different, I think the death of Savimbi should bring a sign of relief to the people of Angola. However, this should be the time for the government to initiate a policy of dialogue with the new leader and extend the olive branch to all Unita fighters. Please Mr Dos Santos do not make those who are left feel like corner tigers, it may not be good for the future of Angola.
The people of Angola will now enjoy freedom, which they missed for so long.
Savimbi's death offers the potential for so much: the question is will the Angolan government seize the chance to begin an open and inclusive debate about peace and the shape of Angola to come? Please don't let the Angolan people down again.
Jonas Savimbi's death only confirmed a popular saying: "He Who lives by the sword dies by the sword". He never was the leader we would have expected to run Angola's nation. Mr Savimbi's dictatorial attitude and psychotic mind would cause anything and anyone who represented an imaginary threat to him in his Group to be dealt with conveniently even if it meant burning you alive with your family watching your horrendous death. The death of this man will not cause the end of all our problems but it will certainly bring the war storm to its lowest fury.
Rebel supporters were of the opinion that a rebel war only ends when rebel leader becomes a the head of state... The death of Savimbi will surely overturn this precedent so that it will be difficult to recruit possible psychopaths to plunder the resources of African states in the future.
UNITA should muscle together its democratic structures and join the rest of the Angolan civil society in the process of national reconstruction... It will now take a united Angolan Civil Society to fight the remaining battles lying ahead: against poverty, corruption, AIDS, nepotism and all the ills retarding the development of this rich country.
Practically speaking, it is going to take a couple generations to heal the 30 years of war. But we can do our part in forgetting what is behind and focusing on what is ahead. I see three things: repentance, reconciliation, rehabilitation.
Isn't it ironic that President Ronald Reagan called him a freedom fighter. In his thirst for power his troops unleashed a reign of terror and destruction. We hope and pray that in his death comes peace and tranquillity to Angola, whose people have gone through man-made and natural disasters for so long.
This is great news for the people of Angola and Africans at large. This war has dragged for far too long. I hope it serves as a warning for other egocentric warlords on the continent. Angola has great potential and I hope the leadership would take full advantage of this development.
For the MPLA government in Angola, the demise of Jonas Savimbi should clear the coast to genuine national reconciliation. (But) this no time for undue triumphalism. The challenges of arrested development are too enormous for the hapless Angolan people for the war to continue. It is time to use the proceeds from oil and diamonds for the welfare of the Angolan people. Other African countries and the United Nations should assist Angola in this possibly defining trajectory in her national life. President Jose San dos Santos should seize the moment to make peace.
Jonas Savimbi is gone. Those who will take over in UNITA should rethink their policy. I believe no sane person would want to spend the rest of their productive life killing their kith and kin. It is unfortunate that Jonas Savimbi spent most of his adult life destroying the very social fabric in which he was a part.
Savimbi's death should be a lesson to all warlords especially those in Somalia. Peace cannot be achieved by war. Peace can only be achieved by dialoque, understanding and reconciliation. Savimbi's death is not an end to warlords. Every other minute a potentially autocratic soldier is being born.
23 Feb 02 | Africa
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