Angolan police, youths clash at protest rally

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 03, 2011 4:49 PM
Angolan police, youths clash at protest rally

LISBON (Reuters) - Angolan youths and police clashed at an anti-government rally in Luanda Saturday, injuring three protesters and leading to several arrests, Portuguese state news agency Lusa reported.

Lusa said dozens of protesters started their march at Independence Square and planned to head to the presidential palace but were swiftly blocked by police, aided by unidentified civilians.

The rally, the sixth organized this year by Angola's burgeoning youth movement, called for the resignation of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has never before faced such dissent in his 32-year-long rule.

Lusa quoted one of the protest organizers as saying an unknown number of youths had been arrested and at least three injured in the clashes.

"Instead of protecting, they (the police) disrespect human rights," the organizer said.

No one at the Angolan police was available for comment.

Political tension is rising ahead of a election planned for late 2012 in Africa's biggest oil producer after Nigeria, where an estimated two-thirds of a population of 16.5 million people live on less than $2 per day.

Inspired by uprisings which toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, Angola's youth movement has organized the rallies without the official support of opposition parties.

Opposition parties and human rights groups have urged the government to stop using violence to suppress the protests.

They have also long accused the government of mismanaging the country's oil revenues, avoiding public scrutiny and doing too little to fight corruption and poverty.

Dos Santos' ruling MPLA party, which won a 27-year long civil war against UNITA in 2002 and then crushed its rivals in a 2008 election, has reacted by organizing its own rallies and accusing the opposition of planning a national insurrection.

The president last month signaled he would lead the party in a re-election bid next year, quashing media speculation that he planned to step down before the ballot.

(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; Editing by Sophie Hares)