Cablegate: Samakuva Kicks Off Unita's Electoral Campaign

DE RUEHLU #1173 3270625
R 230625Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary. On 14 November 2007, UNITA Party
President Isaias Samakuva delivered a rousing, wide-ranging
speech to kick off UNITA's 2008 electoral cycle. He reached
out to those outside his own party, calling for regular
elections, a major investment in education, civil service
reform and a renewed fight against corruption. In a country
with a limited democratic tradition, it will be interesting
to watch the development of "retail politics" by the MPLA,
UNITA, and Angola's smaller opposition parties. Samakuva's
speech was the only presentation by a well-known national
figure during Angola's week-long celebration of Independence.
President Dos Santos was out of the country. End Summary.

2. (U) On 14 November 2007, UNITA Party President Isaias
Samakuva, President of the Union for the Total Independence
of Angola (UNITA) kicked off UNITA's 2008 drive toward
National Assembly elections (reftel) and a call for 2009
presidential elections during a speech to UNITA members and
invited guests. While President Dos Santos has not yet
called for legislative elections, most signs indicate he soon
will, and Samakuva used his presentation to lay down UNITA's
marker in support of the 2008 and 2009 electoral dates.

3. (U) During his speech, Samakuva said after 32 years of
independence, Angola is in dismal condition as evidenced by
statistics on health, infant mortality, and living conditions
for most Angolans. He claimed the country silently yearns
for a Government of Change that will end intimidation, combat
corruption, establish an independent judiciary and fight
poverty. Samakuva however, excluded a truth and
reconciliation process for Angola. He advised his listeners
to leave the past behind, calling all Angolans equally
victims, equally guilty.

4. (U) Poverty, argued Samakuva, threatens national security
and should be reduced through education, health, housing,
employment and justice. Samakuva proposed spending as much
on education as Angola has on military reform, with 12 years
of compulsory education, new school curricula, information
technology in education, and higher salaries for teachers.
Job placement centers and regional salary differentials will
attract employees where their work is needed while vocational
training increases the number of skilled workers. Samakuva
said UNITA would reduce the number of civil servants and
reform the civil and military service, to provide job
security, decent wages and adequate pensions. Revising
existing laws on national security, preventive detention, and
criminal investigation should be the first step to creating
an independent judiciary, according to the UNITA leader.

5. (U) Samakuva's speech kicked off UNITA's 2008 electoral
campaign, in advance of the President's official announcement
of an election date. Samakuva advocated that the 2008
elections should be quickly followed in 2009 with
Presidential elections, and then by votes for provincial and
local officials. To boisterous applause, Samakuva criticized
repeated GRA postponements of legislative elections. He then
called for support from Angolans who are not UNITA members,
saying independent voters have the judgment to evaluate
Angola's situation, and Angola's youth, to use their energy
and talents to form a new society. Samakuva advised his
audience to be fearless, reminding them voters have
overturned dictatorships in other countries, using the ballot
box, every voter's secret weapon.

6. (SBU) Comment: Samakuva's speech was an attempt to
position UNITA as the clear alternative to the status quo of
the MPLA government. UNITA's attempt to distance itself from
the Government of National Unity and appeal to young and
independent voters was also noteworthy. Samakuva's
presentation, given just after Angola's Independence Day
celebration, offered a stark contrast to the failure of
President Dos Santos to appear at any event commemorating the
holiday (he was out of the country at the time). While the
private weeklies took note of Samakuva's speech, the official
media gave the speech one minute on that evening's news.

© Scoop Media

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