War-ravaged Angola ushers in unity government
April 11, 1997
Web posted at: 2:45 p.m. EDT (1845 GMT)
LUANDA, Angola (CNN) -- Angola, shattered by a two-decade
civil war in which half a million people died, swore in a
government of national unity Friday, bringing together two
former foes to rebuild the crippled nation.
"The formation of this government is another fundamental step
in a long and difficult process of peace," President Eduardo
Jose dos Santos said in a speech at the inauguration. "Behind
us lie thousands of dead, a devastated country and a
The ceremony began with the national anthem followed by the
swearing in of former foes, officials from the former UNITA
rebel movement and the previous government.
Dos Santos said establishment of the unity government,
including four Cabinet ministers and seven deputy ministers
from UNITA, would not cure all the ills of the southwestern
African nation. "But it could make a definite contribution
toward a better solution," he said.
A total of 28 Cabinet ministers and 55 deputy ministers were
sworn in during the hours-long ceremony. The inauguration
had been postponed three times since December because UNITA
officials failed to arrive in Luanda, the nation's capital.
Fulfillment of peace accord
The installation of the Government of National Unity and
Reconciliation is the final stage in a
U.N.-brokered peace process launched in 1994.
UNITA's 70 lawmakers took their seats in the 220-seat
national assembly Wednesday, removing the final obstacle to
making way for the new government.
Heads of state including Presidents Nelson Mandela of South
Africa, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Jorge Sampaio of
Portugal attended the inauguration at the Palacio dos
Security was tight, with streets around the building deserted
except for the heavily armed soldiers and police patrolling
the area. Troops manned checkpoints on roads into the
Under the new government, dos Santos remains president, with
UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi having a special role as
opposition leader with the authority to question Santos on
political issues. Savimbi will also have a salary, a house in
Luanda and bodyguards provided by the state.
The civil war broke out on the eve of independence from
Portugal in 1975 and quickly became a Cold War battlefield.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency covertly supported UNITA
while Cuban troops fought for the then-Marxist government
with Soviet-supplied weapons.
The war stopped in 1991, only to resume a year later after a
peace agreement collapsed when UNITA lost U.N.-monitored
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