Conservative Hails Savimbi as 'Great Angolan Patriot'

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28pm EDT

( - The death of longtime Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi continues to rock Angola and has saddened some conservatives in the United States. The Angolan government displayed Savimbi's bullet-riddled corpse in Luanda, the capital and appealed to his followers to end the civil war.

Angolan government forces ambushed Savimbi and his troops Friday in a remote region of the southwest African country. Savimbi was reportedly shot 15 times.

Howard Phillips, Chairman of the Conservative Caucus called Savimbi a "great Angolan patriot, truly a man who served as a loving, self-sacrificing father to those of his countrymen who shared his love of freedom and who were willing to die to escape the bonds of Portuguese colonialism and communist tyranny."

But Phillips thinks the United States betrayed Savimbi.

"Unfortunately, many Americans betrayed Savimbi's heroic friendship. Chevron and other oil companies and their minions in the top ranks of both major political parties degraded themselves for filthy lucre, even consenting to have their employees in Angola guarded by Fidel Castro's communist troops," Phillips said in a statement.

Savimbi's death shows the need for peace in Angola, said U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

"We call upon both sides, in conjunction with the peaceful opposition, civil sectors and international community, to fulfill their obligation to bring peace to the Angolan people," Boucher said.
Angola's government did not view Savimbi so favorably.

In a statement, the Angolan government said Savimbi led "the armed groups responsible for the destruction of national property and the death of countless innocent civilians throughout the country."

The Angolan government appealed to the warring factions to end the civil war that has ravaged the country since the 1970s.

"The Government of the Republic of Angola appeals to those who voluntarily or involuntarily had associated themselves with these terrorist actions to reconsider their options and reintegrate themselves into Angolan society so as to contribute to the consolidation of democracy and national reconciliation," the government statement said.

"In due time and according to the signals it receives from those who are still armed, the government will issue a communique that will include a detailed program to ensure the final cessation of all hostilities in Angola," the statement concluded.

In 1976, Savimbi founded the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) a year after the country had gained its independence from Portugal.

Since the civil war that erupted after Angolan independence, about between 500,000 and one million people have been killed according to news reports.

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