Angola: Promises and Lies
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Angola’s civil war was the longest in Africa. Once the battleground for a proxy war between the Cold War superpowers, the country was supposed to become a model for a smooth transition from armed conflict to democracy. The government, earlier backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba, and the UNITA rebels, supported by the Americans and South Africans, would exchange bullets for ballots – but it all went wrong – UNITA’s Jonas Savimbi rejected his defeat in the elections and plunged Angola back into war. The United Nations could only wring its hands, eventually negotiating a fragile new peace agreement. For most Angolans, however, the effects of a quarter of a century of violence have proved to be more enduring than the taste of peace. Karl Maier was the Angola correspondent for The Independent and Washington Post for 10 years, and provides a fascinating analysis of the realities behind the conflict as well as a vivid eye-witness account of the devastation it brought. Whether speaking to soldiers, nurses, black-market traders or aid workers, he views Angola’s strife with a rare sympathy for the ordinary people caught in the crossfire. Sceptical of both sides’ promises and lies, his is a classic account of one of the civil wars that continue to plague Africa. This updated new edition covers the massive corruption and other problems that have arisen since the ending of the war with Savimbi’s death. Armed conflict has been replaced by an oil boom that has benefited only the country’s elite – as Maier observes, the vast majority of Angolans now face ‘a war of neglect by their rulers’.