News24

Angola marks 10 yrs of end to civil war

2012-04-04 14:09

Luanda - Angola prepared to marked the 10th anniversary of the end of its civil war on Tuesday, with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos expected to unveil a monument near the site where a long-time rebel leader was killed.

Charismatic Unita rebel chief Jonas Savimbi was killed in battle on 22 February 2002 in the eastern town of Luena.

Savimbi's death paved the way to a peace deal signed on 4 April 2002, ending the 27-year civil conflict that erupted soon after independence from Portugal in 1975.

A wreath laying ceremony and concert were among the celebrations planned for the capital Luanda, where Dos Santos has been in power for 32-years, presiding over an oil-fuelled economic boom that began when the war ended.

"The peace constituted a very important factor in people's lives. Without peace the economic and social development of the country would have been impossible," Secretary General of the ruling MPLA party Juliao Mateus Paulo told the national Angop news agency.

The conflict left an estimated 500 000 dead, displaced four million and destroyed much the country's infrastructure.

This legacy is still visible, even as Angola emerged from the ashes of war as one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Nearly 2.4 million people, almost a fifth of the population, still live in areas riddled with landmines, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and poverty is rife.

Through the war, Cuba and the Soviet Union supported the MPLA, while the United States and apartheid South Africa assisted Savimbi's rebels.