Caprivi Strip Succession

After years of dormancy, a secessionist movement in the Southwestern African nation of Namibia has awoken. With the apparent aid of UNITA rebels in neighboring Angola, the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) in early August "launched attacks on a military base at Mpacha airport, and the police station and Namibian Broadcasting Corp. radio center in Katima Mulilo, the [Caprivi] regional capital," report Tangeni Amupadhi and Howard Barrell in the liberal Mail & Guardian of Johannesburg.

The territory the CLA hopes to liberate is known as the Caprivi Strip, an anomaly of colonial history. The 250-mile-long, 31.25-mile-wide sliver of Namibia (formerly South-West Africa), which extends eastward from the northeast shoulder of the country, was carved out by Germany to connect her colonies of South-West Africa and Tanganyika.

Amupadhi and Barrell write, "The issue of Caprivian secession has been gestating for many years-since long before Namibia achieved independence in 1990." The CLA leader, Mishake Muyongo, was once vice president of Namibia's ruling SWAPO when it was a guerrilla movement fighting white-minority rule. More recently, he led the legal opposition party and is now exiled in Denmark.

Although UNITA's support is not certain, it has good reason to cross swords with SWAPO. Namibia's ruling party has long supported the Angolan government in its fight against Angolan rebels. More recently, SWAPO backed President Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo in his fight against insurgents-UNITA's allies in that bloody conflict.