Several injured, 24 arrested in Angola anti-government

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 03, 2011 9:58 PM
Several injured, 24 arrested in Angola anti-government

LISBON (Reuters) - Angolan authorities arrested 24 people at an anti-government youth rally in the capital Luanda Saturday during which several protesters, journalists and police officers were injured, according to media reports.

The rally, organized by a youth movement without the support of any of the main opposition parties, called for the resignation of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has held power in oil-rich Angola for over 32 years.

According to the Portuguese television station RTP, around 200 youths gathered at Luanda's Independence Square at 1200 GMT. Police intervened when a small group headed toward the presidential palace to demand the release of a protester allegedly arrested earlier Saturday.

RTP added that several protesters, as well as several Portuguese and Angolan journalists, suffered light injuries in the fracas.

The Angolan National Police said it arrested 24 people during the rally, with four police officers injured as they tried to persuade the protesters to stay on the authorized route.

It added that three civilians had been injured "by unidentified people," and that they were taken to hospital for medical treatment.

"Against police guidance, some individuals forced the security cordon in an anarchical way, insulting passers-by and police officers and saying they wanted to the head to the palace," the police said in a statement quoted by Angolan state news agency Angop.

"That led to a climate of the violence, which led to the throwing of heavy objects and caused the injuries," it added.

Portuguese news agency Lusa cited one of the protest organizers who had was arrested as saying the police "acted with brutality" during an event authorized by the local government.

Dos Santos' MPLA party, which won in 2002 won the 27 year-long civil war against UNITA and then obtained 82 percent of the vote in the 2008 general election, has long been accused of mismanaging the country's oil revenues, avoiding public scrutiny and doing too little to fight corruption.

An estimated two-thirds of Angola's 16.5 million people live on less than $2 per day in a country which is Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria.

The MPLA is favorite to win a general election next year, but tensions are rising ahead of the ballot after UNITA, now the main opposition party, last month accused it of stripping the national elections committee of any real power .

(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; Editing by Rosalind Russell)