* 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 (Reuters) - 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 guard.”
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 and order.” 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 Giles Elgood