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Angola army splits over vote fraud

Tension rose sharply in Angola on Tuesday as 11 generals of presidential challenger Jonas Savimbi's former rebel group quit a newly created joint national army to protest what they claimed was fraud in last week's national election.

With just over 90 percent of the returns tallied, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos held 51 percent of the presidential vote, and Savimbi had 39 percent, with nine minor-party candidates splitting the rest.

Based on the pattern of voting in provinces where ballots still have not been counted, election officials said privately that dos Santos' total was likely to stay just above 50 percent, thus avoiding a runoff election.

The non-partisan National Electoral Council has until Friday to announce the official results, but it was not clear Tuesday if it could meet the deadline. The panel was reviewing figures and investigating complaints by Savimbi that the voting had been fraudulent.

Angola's joint army, to be made up of 20,000 government troops and 20,000 soldiers from guerrilla forces, was not formally established until the day before the election. Apparently, it did not survive its first political crisis.

As soon as the opposition generals issued a statement saying they had pulled out of the combined military force, dos Santos' armed forces and police increased their already-heavy presence around government buildings in Luanda, the capital city.

Meanwhile, the United States, Savimbi's former backer in the civil war, slammed him for rejecting the outcome of elections judged free and fair by international observers.

Residents reportedly began hoarding food, fearing a resumption of the 16-year civil war that ended with a peace accord in May 1991.

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