Angola 'biggest African buyer of Russian arms' after $1bn deal

Angolan soldiers during a 2008 mission in Congo in this file photo. Post-conflict Angola spends a significant part of its budget on its army. 

The Angolan government has bought arms from Russia in a $1 billion deal, Portuguese news agency Lusa said Thursday.

With the deal Angola becomes the principal purchaser of Russian arms on the continent, outstripping Uganda.

"Angola has inked with the state-owned Rosoboronexport monopoly a $1billion agreement which includes military equipment support and the construction of an ammunition factory in Angola for assistance after sale," the news agency said.

The agreement was reportedly signed last week when Russian deputy prime minister Dmitri Rogozin visited Angola and includes the supply of eight Sukhoi 30 hunt planes, transport Mi-17 helicopters, ordinance, light weapons and ammunition.

The Angolan foreign affairs ministry had said the visit was aimed at health, culture and fishing agreements.

Luanda was yet to react to the report but senior members of the ruling MPLA and the opposition Unita and PRS said they were unaware of such an agreement.

"I have no data about this matter, they are very sensitive news having to do with our national security," Voice of America quoted Unita's André Mendes de Carvalho as saying.

"Let us wait if this will have an influence on our country’s general budget so that we have an opinion on it."

Russia ties

Angola, which is recovering from decades of civil war, maintains close ties with Cold War ally Russia. The southern African country also maintains a tight lid on information about its military capacity, which consumes a large chunk of its budget.

Such arms deals are also shrouded in deep secrecy, with campaign groups alleging that they mainly benefit the elite few.

In July UK-based Corruption Watch said some $750 million from an Angola Treasury arms deal with Russia was "missing", while "another $400m could not be accounted for".

Meanwhile Angolan soldiers have invaded the southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in pursuit of rebels and had allegedly "kidnapped soldiers", AFP reported Thursday.

Angolan troops were pursuing (rebels) of the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) on to Congolese territory, which they use as a rear base, the news agency reported.

FLEC has fought for independence for several decades of Angola's oil-rich territory of Cabinda before opting for a ceasefire in 2006.

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