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Angolan opposition Unita claims intimdation campaign

By AFP

LUANDA, Angola (AFP) - Angola's main opposition party denounced Saturday what it claims was a violent intimidation campaign by the ruling party, three days before the start of a general election campaign.

According to the National Union for the Independence of Angola (Unita), two people died and around 10 were injured after members of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) ambushed a meeting of Unita party members in Kapupa, in the western Benguela region.

"We were surprised by a group of people wearing MPLA T-shirts, armed with machetes... and baseball bats, that wanted to join the meeting. We didn't want to give in and there was a fight," said Unita member Marcelina Pascoal, who was in Benguela.

The party also said that Angolan authorities went to intimidate people in pro-Unita areas in the centre and west of the country ahead of the election on Tuesday.

"To frighten people in the country's interior, the regime ordered national police and the Angolan army to perform manoeuvres in apparently quiet towns with no problems in this pre-election campaign period," Unita spokesman Alcides Sakala told AFP.

The MPLA brushed off Unita's claims as political tactics.

"Unita is trying to create some useless political news to bring attention to the party just before the election," said MPLA's director of information Rui Falcao Pinto de Andrade.

"Unita is always trying to adopt this kind of position to try and justify its political failures," he added.

The election -- only the third since Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975 -- will pit president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos against Unita leader Isaias Samakuva.

In 2008, Dos Santos -- Africa's second-longest serving leader with 32 years in power -- won over 80 percent of the vote. He is expected to sail to victory again this year.

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