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Angola: Updates/Commentary, 1
Angola: Updates/Commentary, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 020302
Document reposted by Africa Action
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 http://www.africaaction.org
Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+
This series of two postings contains a number of short documents
concerning the prospects for peace in Angola after the Feb. 22
death of Jonas Savimbi.
In this posting:
(1) a brief introductory note by Africa Action senior research
fellow William Minter, (2) excerpts from the most recent issue of
the Angola Peace Monitor, reporting on Savimbi's death and
international reaction, and (3) a report from the Jesuit Relief
Service on the reaction to Savimbi's death and the current
situation in Luena, Moxico province, Angola.
In another posting sent out today:
(1) a brief excerpt from a Feb. 27 speech in Washington by
Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, (2) an article from
allafrica.com reporting on the Feb. 26 meeting of Presidents
Chissano, dos Santos, and Mogae with President Bush, (3) a
statement from Angolan traditional leaders at a Feb. 20 meeting in
Luanda hosted by the Open Society Institute, and (4) a UN press
briefing on the humanitarian situation in Angola.
Introductory Note from Africa Action
Jonas Savimbi died in combat on February 22 in the bush in the area
of Moxico province which was his guerrilla base from 1968 to 1974,
the final years before Angolan independence. His capacities for
deception and persistence were already well-developed in that
period, as he combined his nationalist campaign with a secret
agreement with the Portuguese military to join forces against the
rival Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which
later became the ruling party in independent Angola.
After 1974, Savimbi won support from large numbers of Angolans on
the basis of regional and ethnic appeals. But he also relied on
South Africa and the U.S. to back his campaign of terror against
civilians as well as government targets. Returning to war after two
successive peace pacts in the 1990s and the loss of his
international sponsors, he relied on iron discipline to control his
soldiers and on diamonds to provide the means of war.
[for a good summary of Savimbi's background, more extensive and
accurate than the majority of media accounts, see
Shana Wills, Washington's 'Freedom Fighter,' Africa's 'Terrorist',
in Foreign Policy in Focus, Feb. 27, 2002;
Commentators are almost unanimous that the death of Jonas Savimbi
has removed one of the greatest single obstacles to peace in
Angola. But the scars of war and social fragmentation are deep.
Until now, the government in Luanda gained much of what
credibility it had from the contrast to Savimbi. Now it faces both
high expectations and profound skepticism of its capacity to shift
from war to peace.
Luanda is being advised from all quarters to seize the opportunity
to substitute dialogue for continued war. Some in Washington are
reportedly also pushing for elections as soon as possible. Yet the
chances for real peace are unlikely to advance far in formal talks
unless there are also more fundamental changes, including a turn
towards greater openness and, above all, investment of the
country's oil wealth in meeting the humanitarian, social, and
economic crises. Without such changes, moreover, elections are as
likely to stir up conflict as to assuage it.
Speaking the day after the meeting of three African presidents with
U.S. President Bush, Mozambican President Chissano listed some of
Mozambique's lessons on the requirements for a successful peace
process. Characteristically diplomatic, President Chissano did not
present these comments as advice for either his Angolan or U.S.
counterpart. Nevertheless, his message, stressing the need for a
culture of tolerance and for attention to social and economic
factors, was clear.
There is indeed a new opportunity for peace in Angola. Taking
advantage of it, however, requires fundamental changes for both
Luanda and its current international partners.
- William Minter, Senior Research Fellow
Angola Peace Monitor
Issue no.6, Vol. VIII, 6th February 2002
The Angola Peace Monitor is produced every month by ACTSA - Action
for Southern Africa. ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax 44 20 7837 3001, tel 44 20 7833 3133
[Excerpts only: for full issue and archive see
Jonas Savimbi killed
UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed on 22 February following a
fierce battle between his rebel troops and the Angolan army (FAA).
The battle took place in the locality of Lubuei in Moxico province,
some 100 km away from the Zambian border.
Jonas Savimbi died on the same day as some of his most senior
generals, including Brigadier "Big Joy" and Brigadier Mbula. The
Angolan army states that they ambushed Savimbi's military column.
During the fighting around 25 UNITA people from his platoon were
killed. Fighting is also reported to have taken place between FAA
and other UNITA forces who had the task of diverting military
attention away from their leader, led by Mbula and Big Joy.
To allay the cynicism of some foreign journalists, the government
put the body of Savimbi on show to journalists at the nearby town
of Lucusse. The Angolan news agency, ANGOP, reported that following
this the body was buried in the nearby cemetery.
The decisive battle took place following several major FAA
victories over UNITA, including a large-scale ambush on a column of
UNITA fighters who were attempting to flee to Zambia earlier in the
week. During fierce fighting many senior UNITA generals were
captured or killed. ...
Sources indicate that fierce fighting is continuing in Moxico,
where many of Savimbi's top troops - including his "presidential
guard" - remain under siege.
Several senior UNITA figures are reportedly still alive including
vice-president Antonio Dembo, secretary-general Paulo Lukamba Gato,
chief of staff General Geraldo Abreu "Kamorteiro", General Esteves
"Kamy" Pena and General Camalata Numa. ...
Prospects for peace brighter
Jonas Savimbi had centralised power within UNITA to such an extent
that the main military, political and financial aspects of the
organisation were handled primarily by him. His death has
considerably improved prospects for peace in Angola as UNITA is no
longer an insurrectionary force threatening the survival of the
Jonas Savimbi led UNITA in a war against the Angolan government
since the country gained independence in 1975. Relying heavily on
the American CIA and the apartheid South African regime for
protection and support, he denied Angola the opportunity to
Today, two generations of children have known nothing but conflict.
Angola is now ranked one of the worst places in the world to be a
child - nearly one in three die before their fifth birthday because
of war and war-induced poverty. More than half a million people
have died, and millions have been forced to flee their homes.
There have been lulls in the fighting. In 1991, negotiations led to
a cease-fire and the following year United Nations-supervised
elections were held. Rejecting the results, Savimbi led his troops
back into war, seizing much of the country. It was not until the
Angolan army managed to recover much of the lost ground that Jonas
Savimbi allowed his organisation to enter into another peace
agreement - the Lusaka Protocol - in 1994. This time he used the
peace process as a breathing space to rearm his organisation under
the noses of the United Nations using funds from his conflict
diamonds. Eventually UNITA led the country back into full-scale war
in 1998, using its new conventional army to try and seize the
country. However, this effort failed, leading to the Angolan
government's determination to destroy Savimbi's fighting force. ...
The Angolan government has moved quickly to call for the end to
conflict. In a statement on 23 February the government appealed to
"all those, that voluntarily or involuntarily, were associated to
these terrorist practices to consider their options and reintegrate
themselves in the normal life of the country, contributing in this
way to the consolidation of the democratisation and national
reconciliation process". It continued that it will soon issue "a
communique containing a detailed programme to cease all hostilities
The government reiterated its "intention to completely implement
the Lusaka Protocol and also considers that all Angolan political
parties are essential for Angola's democratisation". It called for
the nation to remain calm and tranquil, "respecting law and order,
particularly the right to differences and peaceful co-existence of
During a visit to Portugal on 25 February Angolan President Jose
Eduardo dos Santos expressed hope that the prospects for dialogue
would improve. He stated that "we have to look to the future and
Angolans from all quarters have to be able to pardon, pave the way
for rapid national reconciliation and establish bridges to define
as rapidly as possible a cease-fire conducive to the
demilitarisation of UNITA".
On the question of elections, which have not been held since 1992,
the President stated that "if we rapidly advance this year to
conclude a cease-fire and the demilitarisation of UNITA it may be
that in one to two years elections will be held in Angola". ...
International reaction to Savimbi's death
Leaders of states and international organisations have united in
hope that the death of Jonas Savimbi will provide an opportunity
for Angola to finally achieve peace.
Namibia's foreign minister Theo-Ben Gurirab told the Namibia
Broadcasting Corporation that Savimbi "chose to live by the sword
and inevitably he died by the sword".
Uganda's Defence Minister Amama Mbabaza was more blunt in his
comments, when he told AFP on 23 February that "there are no
regrets. He was trouble maker for Angola, and Uganda never
supported his cause". He continued that "Savimbi represented the
reactionary forces in African politics, we think that if it is true
that he is dead, it would be good for the region and the world".
The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, was far more reticent.
According to the South African Press Association, President Mbeki
said on 24 February that he would prefer not to comment on Unita
leader Jonas Savimbi's death until he had had a chance to apply his
mind properly to the matter. Deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad,
said that Savimbi's death will "affect the capacity of UNITA to
Mozambique's president, Joaquim Chissano, on 24 February regretted
that Savimbi's life "ended in this way, which he could easily have
avoided if he had cooperated with the government". What was
important now, he added, was for all Angolans, regardless of
whether or not they were UNITA sympathisers, "to look ahead, and
commit themselves to national reconciliation, and the consolidation
of democracy, to end the suffering imposed by the war".
Savimbi had been a major obstacle to peace, said President
Chissano, because of his excessive pride, and his failure to keep
President Chissano recalled that after independence, Savimbi allied
himself with the mortal enemy of African nations, the apartheid
regime which then ruled South Africa, which provided him with
massive military support.
The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, stated his
support for the peace process. His spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric,
said that "as far as the secretary general is concerned, it has
created a new situation and he hopes that all stakeholders will
take advantage of it to take the peace process forward".
The representative of the European Union to the Great Lakes Region,
Aldo Ajello, said on 23 February in Luanda that the death of Jonas
Savimbi was an "appropriate time for a definite peace in Angola".
He continued that "the death of a man is always sad news, but at
the same time, and in this case, it is an opportunity for peace and
peace concerns all people of Angola".
UNITA's representative in Portugal, Carlos Morgado stated on
Portuguese television "from now on, the scenario has changed, we'll
have to find new paths. But this will never mean a military
surrender. There'll be no military victory [for the government]".
However, UNITA Renovada, a group of leading UNITA figures that have
decisively broken away from Jonas Savimbi's orbit, called on all of
Savimbi's followers to "reject any option that seeks the
continuation of the armed rebellion begun by Jonas Savimbi".
UNITA Renovada's spokesperson in the United States, Dinho Chingunji
was more sanguine about the news. He announced "Savimbi is
dead!!!"... For me this is definitely a cause to celebrate because
of the genocide that Savimbi carried out against my family".
He continued that "people in UNITA, especially those in the bush
who because of Savimbi security could not leave or make their
feelings known in fear of their lives and that of their families,
now are coming out in hundreds and the truth will come out".
Angolan government announces full withdrawal from DRC
The Angolan government on 31 January announced that it had removed
its last soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Angolan army had assisted Laurent Kabila in ousting the late
dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko in May 1997, in an attempt to halt UNITA
using the country as a staging post for its insurrection. In 1998
Angolan forces were involved in fighting when they saved Kabila
from being overthrown by Rwandan and Ugandan-backed rebels.
In its report on 13 November 2001, the United Nations Panel of
Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other
Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo stated that it
"believes that the involvement of Angola in the DRC is based on
strategic concerns" and that "Angola is believed to be the only
country that has not received any significant compensation for its
military involvement in the DRC".
The fact that the Angolan army has not been engaged in economic
activities in DRC is the main explanation why it has been so fast
in pulling out of the country. ...
No. 107 - 28 February, 2002
Twice monthly news bulletin
JRS DISPATCHES is from the International Office of Jesuit Refugee
Service, CP 6139, 00195 Roma Prati, Italy. Tel: +39-06 689.77.391;
Fax: +39-06 687.92.83; Email: email@example.com; JRS on-line:
Angola: What Next After Death of Rebel Leader
The news of the death of veteran Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi
has been greeted in the town of Luena with much public celebration
and expressions of hope for an end to the country's long-running
civil war. Savimbi was killed by government forces on 22 February,
during a fierce gun battle that resulted in heavy casualties for
both the UNITA rebels and the regular army. JRS Luena report that
when confirmation of the rebel leader's death reached the town,
people fired guns into the air during two hours of celebrations.
Many local people strongly believe that the war has come to an
end, that UNITA lacks the resources to continue the conflict, or
a commander who can match Savimbi's strength and aggressiveness.
Many captured UNITA rebels have confirmed that their movement's
capacity has been heavily reduced of late, fuelling the
government's belief that it will soon be able to put an end to the
Despite the general optimism in Luena, major challenges still have
to be faced by the people of Angola if peace is to be given a
-Many Angolans have suffered badly and lost family members during
the conflict. ''Our discussions with them indicate that they are
not prepared to forgive easily'', reports JRS Luena. The
Government thus needs to construct an effective reconciliation and
reconstruction project for the future.
-War has become a profitable business for many in Angola. Top
government officials, military personnel and others have enjoyed
huge benefits because of the conflict. How prepared are these
people to see peace emerge?
-How prepared is the government to set up democratic structures
that will allow for the expression of opposing views and
-If peace returns, Angola will receive a lot of returnees from
Zambia and DR Congo. Because of the infestation of mines
throughout the country, many of the returnees may settle
temporarily in provincial cities. Does the government have the
capacity and will to deal adequately with these returnees?
''Despite these obstacles, if the government, civil society and
political parties seize this moment as a genuine chance for peace,
justice, and reconciliation, let us also hope the international
community can play its part to assist Angola in bringing about an
end to the war," writes JRS Angola.
Angola: Humanitarian Crisis Deepens
JRS in the Angolan town of Luena reports that the number of
Internally displaced people has risen dramatically of late as a
result of increased military operations in Moxico, and other
nearby provinces. The government believes that the rural
populations in the villages have been a logistical resource for
UNITA's guerrilla warfare in terms of supplies. As a result the
government has embarked on a clean-up operation moving rural
people to Provincial capitals and settling them in camps, a move
that has been condemned by the UN as contributing to a growing
number of displaced civilians. The UN estimates that up to four
million people - almost one third of the Angolan population - have
now been forced to flee their homes as a result of the
long-running civil war.
In the city of Luena alone, the displaced population has reached
more than 89,000. During the month of January nearly 6000 people
entered the city, 90 per cent of whom were women, children, and
the elderly. The total number of orphans in Luena, including
displaced and resident children, is 258, many of whom live in sub
standard conditions at a local orphanage. Clothing, food and basic
non-food items are urgently required for these children. On 12
February, addressing the UN Security Council, UN Under Secretary
General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kenzo Oshimo, described the
status of children in Angola as ''catastrophic'', with 30 percent
of all children dying before the age of five.
The new reality of Luena had not been anticipated by the
humanitarian agencies, most of whom had not created contingency
plans to receive such large numbers of displaced people. Most NGOs
on the ground are already operating at full capacity and simply do
not have sufficient resources to respond to the growing
anticipated needs of the thousands now arriving in the city. The
delivery of humanitarian supplies has also been severely hampered
by the poor condition of the Luena airstrip, the overall insecure
environment, and the fact that surrounding areas are heavily
mined, limiting access to agricultural land.
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
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