Angolan Ruling Party Attacks `Interference' Over Arrests

  • MPLA says local opposition supporting meddling in state role
  • Minister says Western diplomats trying to stir violence

The ruling party in Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, attacked demands for the release of activists accused of plotting acts of rebellion as interference in the country’s institutions, while a minister said Western diplomats are trying to stir violent anti-government protests.

The meddling is supported by some elements of the domestic political opposition, the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, said in a statement published Wednesday in the state-run Jornal de Angola.

“Those who always fought, using all means including military, to destroy the party are not pleased with the country’s stability and evolution achieved mainly since the attainment of peace in 2002,” the party said, referring to the end of a 27-year civil war.

Amnesty International said two weeks ago it was worried about the health of Luaty Beirao, a popular musician on hunger strike, and called for his release along with 14 others activists. The MPLA urged Angolans “to close ranks” around the party and leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

MAP: Angola

Western diplomats are seeking to incite anti-government protesters into violent confrontations with police that would leave “between 20 to 25 dead” to justify intervention in the country, Interior Minister Angelo da Veiga Tavares said on Radio Nacional de Angola. A European citizen was made to leave Angola last year after she “instructed” protesters to provoke the police, he said.

Human-rights groups have accused Dos Santos, Africa’s second-longest serving ruler, of leading a government that commits abuses including extra-judicial killings, the arbitrary detention of critics and curbs on freedom of speech. The slump in oil is straining the economy, the biggest in Africa after Nigeria and South Africa.

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