With less than four days to go before Angola becomes independent next Tuesday (11 November), Portuguese troops have been making their own preparations for the big day ...
With less than four days to go before Angola becomes independent next Tuesday (11 November), Portuguese troops have been making their own preparations for the big day ... preparations for departure.
Less than two thousand Portuguese soldiers remain, stationed in the capital, Luanda ... only a fraction of the numbers garrisoned throughout Angola in the heydays of Portuguese colonial rule.
These last remnants of more than five hundred years of government from Lisbon will themselves leave before independence. The last ruling Portuguese official -- Angola's High Commissioner, Admiral Antonio Silva Cardoso -- will depart just before midnight on Monday.
In their last few days on Angolan soil, the troops have been making their own contributions towards Luanda's independence preparations. Following a directive from the MPLA -- the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, one of the three rival liberation groups fighting for control of the country -- Luanda's citizens have been occupied in cleaning the streets, redecorating public and prominent buildings ... and in removing all statues Symbolic of colonial rule.
In turn, the Portuguese troops have spent much time and effort transporting their own particular statues inside the walls of the garrison they will soon abandon. Among the most revered is a figure of Vasco da Gama ... the celebrated Portuguese sailor and explorer.
But although all seems peaceful in the capital, it is still uncertain just how Portugal will hand over independence when the hour comes. Formerly, the Lisbon authorities said that control would be given only to a joint government made up from all three liberation movements -- the MPLA, the FNLA (National front for the Liberation of Angola) and UNITA (Nation Union for the Total Independence of Angola). The attempt at joint control collapsed months ago ... and Angola is now engaged in what promises to be a long, bloody and bitter civil war, with the MPLA in control of the capital and the centre -- and planning to take independence along -- the FNLA dominant in the north, and a combined FNLA-UNITA force pushing their way through the south.
Complicating the problem even further are allegations that mercenaries are being employed by all groups ... and reports of a well-armed white mercenary force of former right-wing Portuguese colonials and Sough Africans crossing from South West Africa (Namibia).