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Cablegate: Angola: Samakuva Attacks Gra Governing Practices

DE RUEHLU #1297/01 3551510
R 211510Z DEC 06




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: In a strongly worded speech during UNITA's sixth
party conference, UNITA President Isaias Samakuva came out swinging.
He accused President Dos Santos of usurping constitutional power,
the MPLA of trying to ram though it's "Angola 2025" program as
government policy and compared Angola under Dos Santos and the MPLA
to the political style and leadership of Portuguese dictator and
colonial ruler Antonio Salazar. The Salazar reference drew strong
negative reactions from many Angolans, but others praised Samakuva
for acting like an opposition leader. Samakuva's speech was most
likely aimed at silencing UNITA leaders who criticized him for being
too soft on the MPLA and Dos Santos and were challenging him for
UNITA's leadership. The controversy generated, however, is not over
the comparison made; it is proof that the MPLA is not used to
hearing strong criticism of itself or its leader. End Summary.
Samakuva criticizes GRA's and Dos Santos' Record
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2. (U) On November 27 UNITA President Isaias Samakuva addressed the
Political Commission of his party at the inauguration of its Sixth
Party Conference. In his speech Samakuva accused President Dos
Santos and the MPLA of usurping constitutional power from the
government by ruling through presidential decree. Samakuva noted
that Dos Santos had liberally established "artificial legal
entities," i.e. commissions, which do not report to the Parliament
to carry out many programs, thus guaranteeing the President absolute
control over those projects without any opportunity for
parliamentary oversight. In addition, Samakuva called on the
government to combat the institutionalization of corruption and poor
government management, in order to restore public confidence in
government institutions.
3. (U) Samakuva noted that the MPLA was overstepping its role as a
political party and instead acting as the ruling government in
attempting to force the nation to adopt its party-generated agenda,
"Angola 2025," as the official Angolan government program for the
next 25 years. He said the MPLA is attempting to push this agenda
forward with quasi-constitutional status. Referring to the
one-on-one discussions Samakuva and dos Santos held in June and
September of this year, Samakuva said that he had also made clear to
dos Santos that as President he needed to guarantee that all
Angolans benefited from peace and economic prosperity. Samakuva
also directed a point at his own party as well as to the government,
noting that no one should support under-the-table deals dividing
political and economic power, deriding that "certain political class
who feels entitled to divide power among itself."
He Who Shall Not be Named
4. (U) Samakuva created the public outcry and controversy by
comparing President Dos Santos' political style of leadership to
that of Antonio Salazar, former Portuguese fascist dictator who also
governed pre-independence colonial Angola with hard-line measures.
For example, Samakuva noted the similarities between dos Santos and
Salazar in dealing with opposition: whereas Salazar exiled
dissenters from Portugal to the colonies, dos Santos often "rewards"
his party critics with Ambassadorships or for those not as lucky,
with political and economic ostracism. MPLA reaction was swift;
party leaders accused Samakuva of making personal comparisons
between dos Santos and Salazar in newspaper, radio, and television
interviews. Official government reaction was slightly more
balanced. Higino Carneiro, Minister of the Interior and Government
representative to the Bilateral Commission, accused Samakuva of
offending the Office of the President of the Republic with
accusations of unconstitutional conduct, and the GRA formally
protested to the Bilateral Commission (Lusaka/Luena Accords) and
asked UNITA to clarify its statement. Samakuva worked to clarify in
later interviews that he was merely comparing leadership styles
rather than equating dos Santos with a brutally repressive colonial
dictator, but in the eyes of many the damage had already been done.
The full content of the speech received some press coverage in the
weekly independent newspapers, but the government newspaper Jornal
de Angola only provided coverage of the subsequent controversy
surrounding the Salazar comparison.
A Surprise even to Party Insiders
5. (SBU) UNITA spokesperson Adalberto Costa Junior told P/E chief on
December 14, 2006, that Samakuva had not shown the speech to anyone
in the run-up to the Party meeting, commenting that he, himself, had
only seen it the hour before it was to be delivered and was
surprised at the Salazar reference, knowing the reaction it would
provoke. Adalberto Jr. commented that this was not Samakuva's usual
procedure, as normally as spokesperson he would have been invited to
review and comment on the speech days before delivery. Adalberto Jr.
affectionately called Samakuva a "stubborn old guy" who knew full
well what he was doing and could not have been dissuaded from taking
this tact.
6. (SBU) Adalberto Junior also voiced concern that the speech might
have jeopardized any future one-on-one meetings between dos Santos
and Samakuva. He expressed surprise at the level of venom with
which some MPLA members, including his counterpart, MPLA spokesman
Norberto dos Santos "Kwata Kanawa," reacted to the speech, noting
that he had never seen Kwata Kanawa lose control to that extent.
However, Adalberto Jr. seconded Samakuva's criticism of the MPLA as
acting as a one-party government, noting that UNITA had been denied
permission to air advertisements regarding its Party Meeting on

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national radio despite having paid for the air-time. When asked
about the effect of the speech on Samakuva's standing within the
Party, Adalberto said that would-be candidates for UNITA President
(Lukamba Gato and Abel Chivukuvuku) had enough of their own
obstacles within the party that this wouldn't strengthen their
candidacies. Note: Adalberto has a long-time association with
Samakuva dating back to their years in exile in the early 90s in
Lisbon. End Note.
7. (SBU) Comment: Samakuva's speech came as surprise to many, but it
was most likely a calculated effort to show dissatisfied UNITA
members that Samakuva was not soft on Dos Santos and the MPLA. The
statement drowned out speculation in the opposition press that
Samakuva had sold out UNITA in secret meetings with President Dos
Santos. The visceral reaction to the Salazar comment is not so much
a disagreement with the comparison, but a reflection that Angolans,
and the MPLA in particular, are unaccustomed to hearing strong
criticism of their party and/or their leader. The week following
Samakuva's speech the MPLA used its party Congress to attack
Samakuva for comparing the President to Salazar. Some analysts and
local blogs praised Samakuva, however, for finally acting as an
opposition party leader by calling attention to problems in the
government and criticizing the lack of democratic process. End

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