* Ruling MPLA party accuses UNITA of inciting civil unrest
* Accuses UNITA of being part of dirty campaign against MPLA
* UNITA says trying to hold MPLA more accountable
By Henrique Almeida
LUANDA, Sept 8 Angola's main opposition UNITA
party is using last week's riots in Mozambique along with false
accusations of government corruption to incite civil unrest in
the oil-producing nation, a ruling MPLA party spokesman said.
Rui Falcao was referring to a speech by the leader of UNITA,
Isaias Samakuva, in which he criticised a government decision to
raise fuel prices by up to 50 percent, adding that poverty in
Angola was already worse than in Mozambique.
"It is clear that there is a dirty campaign aimed at
tarnishing the MPLA's image ahead of the 2012 elections," Falcao
said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday. "UNITA is part
of this dirty campaign."
A 30 percent rise in bread prices in Mozambique last week
triggered widespread protests in the impoverished African nation
in which 13 were killed and more than 100 injured.
In his Sept. 3 speech to UNITA supporters, Samakuva also
said there was widespread government corruption and Angola
needed to to be ruled differently "because what happened in
Mozambique could also take place in Angola."
UNITA spokesman Alcides Sakala says the opposition party is
only trying to make the MPLA, in power since Angola's 1975
independence from Portugal, more accountable.
Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil producer but
an estimated two-thirds of its 18.5 million people live on less
than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.
"If there is corruption and widespread poverty in Angola
then it is our duty to say this out loud," said Sakala. "That's
what opposition parties are meant to do."
This is the second time in less than a week that the MPLA
has publicly said there was a smear campaign aimed at hurting
the party ahead of general elections in 2012.
But Falcao brushed aside the chance of civil unrest. The
majority of Angolans stand behind the ruling party in its
efforts to rebuild the nation after it won a 27-year civil war
against UNITA in 2002, he said.
"People sometimes forget that the MPLA has 4.8 million
registered members that come from all walks of life," said
Falcao. "We are not like Mozambique. We won't be caught off
He also accused UNITA of using its own radio station, Radio
Despertar, or Radio Awakening, to incite civil unrest.
Despertar's broadcasts turned sour after one its reporters was
shot dead in his home on Sept 5. No arrests have been made.
"Since Monday, Radio Despertar has made repeated appeals for
civil disobedience," said Falcao. "We call on all Angolans not
to react to such provocations or invitations to go against law
Asked whether the MPLA was aware of the Radio Despertar
reporter's death, Falcao replied: "Yes."
"We heard about it. People in Angola get involved in all
kinds of problems. We have no idea what happened."
(Reporting by Henrique Almeida, editing Ed Stoddard and