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Angolan former rebel chief Savimbi to be re-buried

The remains of Angolan former Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi will be re-buried at Lopitanga Village in Central Bié Province on April 6, his family confirmed.

Dr Savimbi’s nephew, Mr Araújo Kacyke Pena, told VOA radio that the Unita founders remains would be interred next to his ancestors.

He disclosed that negotiations with the government were ongoing towards the reburial plans.

The state-owned Jornal de Angola confirmed Wednesday that Dr Savimbi’s body would be exhumed Thursday in Moxico Province for DNA tests.

Forensic experts

The tests would be conducted in Angola, South Africa and Portugal laboratories for 15-20 days.

The team to conduct the exhumation comprises a doctor, a Health ministry inspector and forensic experts from Portugal and South Africa.

Genetic representatives from the Medicine faculty of Angola’s Agostinho Neto University, members of the presidency security house and Dr Savimbi’s family members would attend the exhumation.

“Dr Savimbi’s sons who are currently living abroad will also attend the burial ceremony,” Mr Pena said, adding that “one of them is already here”.

Unita sources said that dignitaries from around the globe were expected to attend the Lopitanga Village ceremony.

Civil conflicts

Dr Savimbi was reportedly survived by 30 sons and the vast majority of them were living abroad.

The controversial but charismatic Dr Savimbi founded the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) in 1966.

He led Unita in a 27-year civil war with the Angolan government, before transitioning into the main opposition party.

Dr Savimbi was killed in battle against the government forces in Lucusse region on February 22, 2002, aged 67. His body was buried in Luena city, the capital of Moxico Province, in east central Angola.

The Unita leader’s death paved the way for a peace deal that ended one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil conflicts, which erupted after independence from Portugal in 1975.

The war left at least half a million people dead and some four million civilians displaced in the oil-rich nation.

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