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Angola: Peace Monitor, VII, 12
Angola: Peace Monitor, VII, 12
Date distributed (ymd): 010919
Document reposted by APIC
Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service
provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy
Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on
Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at
Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
This posting contains the latest issue of the Angola Peace Monitor,
from September 5, which focuses particularly on the UNITA attack
on a passenger train on August 10, which killed over 250 people.
The train first struck a mine, and then survivors were attacked by
UNITA troops waiting in ambush. The Angola Peace Monitor is
produced by Action for Souther Africa (ACTSA,
For additional contact information, see below. For recent news on
See also: Update Angola from the Angola Peace Action Network at:
For extensive current news on Angola in Portuguese, see
Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA
Issue no.12, Vol. VII
5th September 2001
Revulsion over train massacre
There has been widespread condemnation of an attack by Jonas
Savimbi's UNITA rebels on a civilian train on 10 August, which left
over 250 people dead and another 160 injured.
The train was an ordinary scheduled service from Luanda to Dondo,
consisting of four passenger carriages, two freight trucks and two
oil tanks. It was derailed when it hit an anti-tank mine near Zenza
do Itombe, Cuanza Norte province. Witnesses state that UNITA rebels
were lying in wait, and many people were murdered as they jumped
from the train.
On 13 August UNITA's top general, Abreu Kamorteiro, admitted that
UNITA attacked the train, but claimed that it was escorted by a
battalion of FAA [the Angolan army], and was carrying fuel and
military equipment. According to UNITA, 26 soldiers and 11 police
officers were killed. UNITA denies that many civilians were killed.
It appears that UNITA miscalculated the revulsion that would follow
the mass slaughter of civilians.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, on 14
August condemned the train attack "in which a very high number of
civilians were killed" and noted that UNITA "bears the
responsibility for this indefensible loss of life".
A UN Security Council statement on 16 August strongly condemned the
"terrorist attack on a civilian train near the town of Maria
Teresa. As in previous attacks, such as Caxito, UNITA personnel
deliberately targeted civilians". It continued that "Members of the
Security Council reiterated their support for all existing
sanctions against the UNITA faction headed by Jonas Savimbi pending
the organisation's full implementation of its Lusaka Protocol
It concluded "Members of the Council reiterate their support for
the preparations under way for holding elections in 2002 in Angola
and state that such actions by UNITA should not be allowed to
stymie those efforts".
The President of the European Union stated on 21 August that "the
EU is appalled by the brutal attack perpetrated on Friday 10 August
by UNITA on civilians travelling on the regular train between
Luanda and Dondo (Cuanza Norte Province), which caused around 250
casualties and 165 injured. This terrorist act against innocent
men, women and children, cannot but be strongly condemned by the
EU. The EU believes that the continuation of such a course of
action does not contribute to create the necessary confidence
building measures towards a serious and effective dialogue that can
lead to peace and national reconciliation in Angola. The EU urges
UNITA to immediately cease these kind of actions against civilians
that inflict terrible distress to the Angolans, to comply with the
provisions and spirit of the Lusaka Protocol and to engage
seriously in the search for peace through concrete actions that
confirm its declared willingness to dialogue."
In recent months the Angolan government had significantly softened
its tone towards Savimbi, calling on him to disarm his troops and
rejoin the democratic process. However, the recent high profile
terrorist attacks by UNITA may send this process into reverse.
The Human Rights Officer of the Ministry of Justice, Augusto
Escrivao, told the official Angolan news agency ANGOP on 22 August
that the Angolan government should ask the United Nations to put
Jonas Savimbi and his followers on trial at the Hague International
Court. Speaking at a press conference, Escrivao stated that "there
is evidence of kidnapping of children, elderly people and women in
several regions of Angola performed by Jonas Savimbi. There is
evidence of the murder of thousands of civilians, criminal acts
that are sufficient to justify Savimbi`s trial at the Hague
The Deputy Foreign Minister, Toko Serao, told a meeting with the
Diplomatic Corps in Luanda on 27 August that "the massacre at Zenza
do Itombe is a murder of civilians, a real genocide and, like this,
it is a crime against humanity that affects the international
community". Serao stated that the Angolan government is looking
into the steps necessary to bring the perpetrators of the massacre
to a court of law.
On 18 August thousands of Angolans demonstrated in Luanda against
the train attack. The demonstrators marched to the United Nations
headquarters, where Minister for Women and Family, Candida Celeste,
handed over a letter calling for tougher action against UNITA.
The responses to the train attack show that UNITA has committed not
only a terrorist crime, but also a strategic mistake. Jonas Savimbi
had been trying to promote himself as being a victim who is in
favour of peace through dialogue. Among other things he has
demanded the dropping of sanctions against UNITA. The recent
attacks have hardened the international community's attitude
towards UNITA, and any suggestion that sanctions should be dropped
so that UNITA can legally buy weapons will be met with incredulity.
Savimbi hunted in Moxico
There is speculation that the current attacks by UNITA on soft
targets is a desperate attempt to divert the Angolan army away from
its main focus of hunting down and capturing Jonas Savimbi and his
military commanders. The Angolan army has been chasing Savimbi
through the bush since he was driven out of his stronghold in
Andulo in 1999.
Sources state that Jonas Savimbi is currently in Moxico province,
constantly hounded by the army and the airforce. With his options
being rapidly eroded, military sources expect that Savimbi will
either have to move into Zambia or back into the centre of the
Indeed, some UNITA fighters have recently fled into Zambia.
According to an AFP report, the heavily armed UNITA troops entered
Zambia on 13 August. The report quotes a Zambian intelligence
officer as stating that "it seems there is heavy fighting on the
Angolan side and the rebels are running away because most of them
have run out of bullets".
Other advances by the army in Moxico have been reported. According
to the army the son of General Altino Sapalalo "Bock" was freed
from captivity when FAA took a UNITA base at the end of July.
General Bock was executed on Jonas Savimbi's orders following
UNITA's failed assault on Kuito in December 1998.
In the light of FAA advances in Moxico province, UNITA has kept up
its attacks against civilian targets elsewhere.
On 24 August UNITA attacked a bus killing at least 50 people near
the town of Cacolo, Malange province. According to Radio Ecclesia
a missile was fired at the bus, and the rebels shot at people
trying to escape.
On 1 September UNITA attacked a convoy of civilian buses 50 km from
Sumbe, Cuanza Sul province, killing 38 people and injuring 52.
On 19 August UNITA attacked the village of Anha do Norte, Benguela
province, killing nine and injuring 14. The village is at the site
where the state oil company, Sonangol, plan next year to build a
massive oil refinery, costed at $3 billion.
On 24 August UNITA attacked the town of Cunje, near to Kuito city.
The Angolan army has continued to make advances against the few
remaining pieces of UNITA-held territory.
ANGOP reported on 17 August that FAA had taken the UNITA military
base at Kalussinga, Bie province. In April FAA uncovered a large
arms dump at Kalussinga containing 1,000 rocket-propelled grenades.
More people flee homes
There have been further movements of people to
government-controlled towns as attacks by UNITA and operations by
the Angolan army continue.
Two thousand people recently fled fighting around the towns of Beu
and Cuilo Futa for the town of Maquela do Zombo, Uige province.
Many others have fled from the fighting across the border to the
Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the UN High Commission
for Refugees, two thousand people have recently arrived in Kimvula.
A further 3,000 people are reported to have recently fled heavy
fighting around Gamba, near Nharea, Bie province. Nharea was
formerly a UNITA stronghold and the site of major diamond mining by
In Cuanza Sul over a thousand people have fled fighting around the
villages of Munenga and Cabuta.
In Cuanza Norte almost a thousand people have fled fighting in the
Samba-Lucala and Samba-Caju districts to Lucala.
The World Food Programme on 31 August complained that some people
fleeing to the provincial capitals of Malange, Cuando Cubango and
Bengela were ambushed. It stated that intensive fighting has been
reported around Cuemba, Muhango and Chicala.
The government has previously been condemned by some NGOs and
western diplomats for herding people out of Cuemba to the nearby
town of Camacupa to use them as human shields.
However, a Save the Children food security assessment document for
Kuito covering the period 14 to 23 July, draws more complex
conclusions: "Military activity - whether as a deliberate strategy
of destabilisation by UNITA, or as a government strategy to clear
areas believed to contain UNITA insurgents - is cited frequently as
the initial cause for what in effect turns out to be the first in
a series of displacements. Subsequent displacements, e.g. from
Cuemba to Camacupa and Camacupa to Kuito, come about because
authorities are overwhelmed and do not have the resources to cope
with the demand; so they send those most in need of the assistance
on to the next place. This is an understandable response, but begs
the question: why was no provision made by them when it must have
been clear to the government forces, and through them the local
authorities, what was going to happen".
The report also states that "where the government pursues military
strategies which lead to the displacement of the civilian
population, it is clearly neglecting its obligation to make
adequate provision for their welfare, placing unreasonable burden
on already strained capacity".
However, the food shortages in Cuemba were, in turn, related to the
problems of delivering supplies by air to the nearby city of Kuito
after two UNITA at tacks on civilain aircraft. SCF states that "The
poor pipeline in June stems largely from the suspension of flights
- a situation that was outside of the control of WFP and therefore
On a positive note, the road link between Lobito and Huambo has
been re-established following the rebuilding of the bridge over the
river Colongue, which was opened on 17 August. The previous bridge
was destroyed by UNITA in 1998.
More than 600 Angolan refugees have returned to Angola from
The repatriation was organised by the UNHCR, who organised a convoy
from Pointe Noire to Cabinda. Many of the returnees had been living
in Pointe Noire for eight years.
The UN news agency IRIN reported that according to UNHCR, there are
still more than 12,000 Angolan refugees from Cabinda in Pointe
President to step down
In a step that could offer Jonas Savimbi an honourable exit from
political life, the President of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos,
has announced that he will not stand in the next presidential
elections. President dos Santos made the announcement on 23 August
to the Central Committee of the MPLA.
Dos Santos, who is 59 years old, took up the post of President in
1979 after the death of Agostinho Neto, having previously served as
foreign minister and minister of planning.
The government is keen to go ahead with elections in 2002, but
there is growing debate over whether the conditions will exist for
voters to freely express their will.
The government has pointed out that elections were held in 1992
when UNITA was better armed and controlled more of the country, and
also warns that such a long period without elections raises
questions about legitimacy which can only be answered through the
However, a note of caution was raised by the presidential advisory
council on 1 August when it set out three conditions for elections.
The Council of the Angolan Republic stated that elections should be
held only after the drafting of a new constitution; adopting a new
electoral law; and stabilising violence to allow free movement of
goods and people.
The council is chaired by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and is
made up of representatives of political parties, civic
organisations and religious bodies.
President dos Santos has also called for a national census prior to
This analysis is in keeping with a recent visit by the US
Consortium for Elections and Political Processes Strengthening
(CEPPS), which found that the conditions for new elections do not
exist. The delegation, which included representatives from the
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the
International Republican Institute and the National Democratic
Institute, visited Angola for a fortnight in August.
The head of the CEPPS delegation, David Kramer, has pointed out the
key problem with elections in Angola is not the logistical and
security difficulties which do not exist in Angola. He pointed out
that elections cannot bring peace to Angola, and that a climate of
understanding is needed. In particular, he stated that participants
must respect the results of the elections.
If Jonas Savimbi was to match President dos Santos' decision not to
stand in the next presidential elections, it would undoubtedly
resolve some of the most crucial problems facing Angola. It would
also open the door for UNITA to reorganise as a political force
able to mount an election campaign. Currently UNITA is split into
three factions: UNITA Renovada - headed by Eugenio Manuvakola;
another larger group which refused to join Renovada but which
remained in Luanda when Savimbi returned to war - led in parliament
by Abel Chivukuvuku; and the military wing - led by Jonas Savimbi.
SADC to take action against UNITA
At the end of its Heads of State summit in Malawi on 14 August, the
Southern African Development Community issued a communique which,
inter alia, listed action the region intended to take against
The communique stated that SADC has approved measures in response
to the UN sanctions against UNITA, including the installation of
mobile radar systems to detect illegal flights across SADC borders,
an international certification system for diamonds, and the
creation of a task force to compile data and to formulate a
strategy to stop the supply of petroleum products to UNITA.
The summit also endorsed the creation of an ad-hoc committee,
coordinated by President Chissano in his position as Chairperson of
the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security - whose appointment as
chair removes President Robert Mugabe's long hold on the body. The
committee will be composed of representatives from Botswana,
Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and will compile a report on how SADC
member states are implementing UN sanctions against UNITA. The
report will be submitted to the UN.
The summit also announced that the next Heads of State summit would
be in Angola in 2002.
WFP receives grain to cover 2001 needs
The WFP has told IRIN that a donation of 6,000 tonnes of resources
from the United States has guaranteed food rations until the end of
Cautious optimism over diamond conference
The latest leg of the Kimberley Process - which seeks to draw up an
international certification scheme to be adopted by the UN to stop
the trade in conflict diamonds - is to take place in London on 11
to 13 September.
NGOs are optimistic that progress will be made at the London
meeting, and are hopeful that a final agreement can be reached in
Gaborone, Botswana, in November before being taken to the United
Nations General Assembly to meet the end of year deadline.
Issues yet to be resolved include how to maintain the audit trail
all the way from the mine to the jewellers. Whilst there is general
agreement on how to maintain a certificate of origin regime for
packages of diamonds from producer countries such as Angola, it is
less clear what happens to these packages when they get split up
and mixed in new packages in third countries.
IMF demands more reforms
The International Monetary Fund has concluded that the
macro-economic targets set out in Angola's staff monitored
programme have not been met. Following an IMF delegation to the
country from 17 to 31 July, the Bretton Woods institution has given
the country until October to make further progress.
On 16 August the IMF announced that the Angolan economy needs to
reduce inflation, improve transparency in the public sector, and
implement further structural reforms.
The IMF accepted that there has been some progress, especially in
the diagnostic study of the oil sector, the completion of the
external audit of the 1999 accounts of the central bank, the
approval of further privatisation, along with other economic
reforms. However, it criticised the government for a failure to
produce and publish data on government revenues and expenditures.
The Angolan government hopes that by following the IMF's economic
policies, there will eventually be the opportunity to restructure
the country's debts towards cheaper, longer-term loans, along with
access to soft loans from institutions such as the World Bank.
The Angola Peace Monitor is available on the ACTSA web site at:
The Angola Peace Monitor is produced every month by ACTSA - Action
for Southern Africa. ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA,
fax +44 20 7837 3001, telephone +44 20 7833
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa
Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The
Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa
Action's information services provide accessible information and
analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies
toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice
and the full spectrum of human rights.