A true freedom fighter

May 17, 1991|By The News and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

JONAS SAVIMBI is one of the few guerrillas who truly deserves the title of "freedom fighter." Savimbi did not take up arms to seize power, but to oppose a one-party state so that free elections could be held in Angola.

The approval . . . of legislation establishing a multiparty system in the southern African country vindicates Savimbi and his UNITA rebels. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola and Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola are scheduled to approve the agreement to establish a democratic system of government within a few days of a May 15 cease-fire.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Savimbi will then meet in Lisbon at the end of the month to sign what will be the country's Magna Carta. Savimbi has said that he will return to the capital of Luanda in July after the legalization of UNITA and begin campaigning for general elections to be held by the end of 1992.

Savimbi has often been depicted as a puppet manipulated by South Africa and the CIA. He has never hidden his ties to Pretoria and Washington. He said that he needed all the help he could get to fight the Marxist MPLA, which had the Soviet Union and Cuba on its side. . . . Throughout the 16 years the civil war has been waged, Savimbi had the hearts of the majority of Angolans on his side. It was the collapse of communism that allowed Angola to throw off Marxist dictatorship, but it was the abandonment of apartheid by South Africa that made true democracy viable.

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