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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Angola: Peace Process, 1
Any links to other sites in this file from 1996 are not clickable,
given the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date links in old files.
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Angola: Peace Process, 1
Date Distributed (ymd): 960328

From War to Peace in Angola: Increasing the Chances of Success
Position Paper, March 1996

Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) * Holland Committee on
Southern Africa (KZA) * Washington Office on Africa (WOA)

Since the signing of the Lusaka Protocol in November 1994,
Angolans have been living between war and peace. They are
grateful for the cease-fire and peace process that ended the
previous two years of unrestrained conflict. But they are
concerned at repeated delays in implementation of the
agreement. Despite many reasons for hope that things will be
different, the specter of 1992, when UNITA's leaders plunged
the country into war after rejecting the results of the
internationally monitored September election, has not yet been

Signs of hope include the higher level of UN engagement than
in 1992, the high-level and energetic attention to the process
evidenced in recent U.S. policy, the willingness of donors in
Europe and elsewhere to provide funding for necessary
reconstruction projects, and the recent momentum gained by the
Angolan government's flexibility on several disputed points
and the quartering of the first substantial number of UNITA
troops. The UN Security Council's extension of the mandate for
only three months on February 8 imposes pressure for
substantial additional progress. The March 1 summit meeting in
Libreville, Gabon between Angolan President Jos‚ Eduardo dos
Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi produced new commitments
to advance on both military and political provisions,
including scheduling UNITA's entry into a new government of
unity and national reconciliation in June or July.

The prospect of new pretexts for delay, however, is still
significant. The agenda includes not only completion of the
quartering of UNITA troops, but also many other critical
issues yet to be implemented, including demobilization or
integration into the national army of quartered troops,
integration of UNITA recruits into the police, and
incorporation of UNITA into agreed posts in the national
government. UNITA has raised questions about the legitimacy of
the national assembly after November 1996, when its initial
four-year mandate will have passed. Full implementation of the
provisions of the Lusaka Protocol, originally envisaged to be
completed with UN assistance by February 1997, is far behind
schedule. The engagement of Angolan civil society in the peace
process is weak. The right to freedom of movement,
particularly in UNITA-controlled areas, is systematically
violated, without an effective response from the international
community.  And, despite large-scale international commitments
of humantarian and reconstruction aid, the prospects for quick
implementation of sustainable projects for reconstruction
which could give additional momentum to peaceful activities
are still hampered by government incapacity, UNITA fears of
losing control over their population base, and the lack of
sufficient local knowledge and problems of coordination among
newly arrived agencies.

There is a danger that well-intentioned "best-case" thinking
could inadvertently sweep under the carpet serious obstacles
that could impose new delays or even sabotage the process
entirely. Speaking to Inter Press Service correspondent Chris
Simpson after the Libreville summit, a 'senior diamond
industry source' familiar with the volatile situation in
Angola's northeast complained, "It's dangerous as hell out
there and the U.N. doesn't want to know. They're making
exactly the same mistakes they made in 1992" when the earlier
peace pact fell apart.

Despite the increase in international involvement, the low
profile of African issues in general has meant that recent
discussion of policy options on Angola has only sporadically
entered the public debate in foreign countries with key roles
in the process. Both within Angola and with respect to the
bilateral and multilateral agencies involved, the public has
not been adequately engaged in dialogue with policy-makers and
other officials responsible for the details of implementation.

The policy framework that follows is intended as a
contribution to a wider public debate. It is addressed in part
to those, both Angolans and non-Angolans, who have direct
official responsibility in the peace process--in the Angolan
government, UNITA, the United Nations and the "troika" of the
U.S., Russia and Portugal. But it is also aimed at all others
interested in increasing the chances of success in that
process--Angolan and non-Angolan civil society actors
including non-governmental organizations, businessmen and
others, whether currently involved in Angola or contemplating
such involvement.

The statement originated with the Washington Office on Africa
(WOA) in the U.S. and Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) in
the U.K., the successor organization to the British Anti-
Apartheid Movement, and is endorsed by the Holland Committee
on Southern Africa (KZA). These groups do not have direct
organizational responsibility in Angola, but each has long
been engaged in public advocacy concerning the Angolan crisis,
in all its stages from the period of resistance against
Portuguese colonialism through the present. It reflects
insights from recent visits to Angola by William Minter,
Senior Research Fellow at WOA's affiliate Africa Policy
Information Center and by Ben Jackson, the Director of ACTSA,
as well as consultation with other groups and individuals
concerned with the peace process. The statement assumes
familiarity with general background information, for which a
short list of suggested sources is attached. The statement is
not intended as a comprehensive plan or set of recommendations
for those involved in the process on a day-to-day basis, but
rather guidelines which in our judgement all parties need to
consider in order to increase the chances of success. In many
cases, while implementation depends primarily on the official
actors, others may be able to think of creative small steps
which could aid, if only in a small way, in moving the process

In the last two months there has been significant renewed
momentum in implementing the latest peace agreement signed
almost a year and a half ago in Lusaka. But on the ground
Angolans are still suspended between war and peace, hoping
against hope for success while still fearful that their hopes
might be dashed as they were so brutally after the orderly,
transparent and internationally recognized elections in
September 1992. We think it urgent that the international
community continue to press for completion of the peace
process, which will then give Angolans of all political
persuasions the opportunity to engage fully in what will be a
much more extended process of building sustainable democratic
institutions and reconstructing their country. Recent advances
are encouraging, but it would be a serious mistake to regard
the process as already irreversible or to play down the many
obstacles still to be overcome.

In Angola, the term "esquema" refers to the ingenious,
creative and often devious "schemes" individuals are forced to
find to survive and, in the case of a few, to enrich
themselves. In order for the peace process to succeed, both
Angolans and their friends, official and non-official, will
have to discover large- and small-scale "esquemas" for peace.

We are much encouraged by recent initiatives by the U.S. and
the international community in general to move the process
along. But we are also concerned that the chances be minimized
for repeating the mistakes of the past, in which the U.S.
government often disregarded African and non-governmental
views to pursue its unilateral agenda in Angola, and in which
multilateral agencies found themselves unprepared to respond
to predictable breakdowns in earlier peace processes.  Members
of the UN Security Council in particular, and major
contributors to reconstruction such as the European Community,
need to continue high-level involvement in maintaining the
peace momentum as well as in implementation of particular

The specific policy recommendations contained in this
statement are necessarily illustrative and suggestive rather
than comprehensive. What will count most heavily for peace in
Angola is what is done on the spot day-by-day. But it also
requires sustained international attention to the substantive
issues at stake, and open debate on what measures can most
increase the chances for peace. It is in that spirit that we
present the following guidelines.

Guidelines for Increasing the Chances for Peace

(1) Maintain Momentum on Multiple Fronts.

Since January there has been significant momentum in moving
the peace process along, culminating in intense pressure on
UNITA to move its troops to the agreed quartering areas.
Although UNITA did not fulfill the pledge by its leader Jonas
Savimbi to have 16,500 troops quartered before the February 8
United Nations Security Council meeting, by March 6 the number
registered at the four quartering areas had reached 16,985,
while the number of weapons turned in at the camps added up to
14,485. The Security Council extended the UNAVEM mandate for
three months, until May 8, instead of the expected six months,
and explicitly called on UNITA to complete quartering of their
troops within this time period.

Given past experience, there is no chance that this will
happen without continued intense outside pressure. According
to the Lusaka Protocol, the next steps--selection of UNITA
troops to join the national army and demobilization of excess
forces--will not begin until the quartering process is
completed. However, it is extremely unlikely that all the
forces can in fact be quartered without simultaneous progress
on integration into the national army, implementation of
UNITA's agreed-on participation in the political process, and
other confidence-building measures. The declared total of
62,500 UNITA military personnel to be quartered is possibly an
overestimate, but the pace will have to quicken even to
quarter a more modest figure of 45,000 to 50,000.

If pressure to complete the quartering is not combined with
measures to advance on other fronts, and attention focuses
primarily on the numbers game of how many have been quartered,
there are likely to be significant additional delays as well
as increased chances of cease-fire violations and other
incidents provoked by idle soldiers in the quartering areas.

Other issues mentioned in the Security Council resolution of
February 8 include calls to UNITA to release its remaining
prisoners, as the government has already done, and calls to
both parties, but in particular UNITA, to implement freedom of
movement of people and goods and to cooperate fully with
humanitarian organizations. Given the natural tendency to
concentrate on the more easily quantified issue of the number
of troops quartered, these points need additional attention
and high-profile pressure, just as in January and February
high-profile pressure was focused on the quartering exercise.

It is also critical that plans move forward as rapidly as
possible on the specifically military issues of integration
into the national army, demobilization and integration into
the police of the agreed UNITA recruits. Because of previous
delays and ongoing discussions among the parties involved, the
Lusaka Protocol has in practice been repeatedly amended since
it was signed in November 1994. Instead of waiting until after
the full completion of the quartering process, as the letter
of the protocol implies, every effort should be made to move
ahead with the next steps for the soldiers already in the
camps, which would also free up resources for dealing with
newcomers as they arrive. It is particularly important that
details be finalized on the movement of UNITA generals into
posts in the national army, so that they can accept joint
responsibility for implementation of the remainder of the
peace process from within rather than as commanders of a
separate military force.

It has also been evident that one of the flash points for
incidents and for human rights violations is the practice of
cattle rustling in the "neutral zones" separating government
and UNITA forces. Off-duty soldiers of both sides, as well as
free-lance bandits, have stolen cattle from civilians, leading
to incidents of violence against civilians or clashes between
the two armies. Until these areas are patrolled by forces
which include recruits from UNITA as well as the existing
government army, any government actions against banditry can
easily turn into confrontations with UNITA.

(2) Increase Transparency and Involve Civil Society.

Discussion to date on these issues has tended to focus on the
United Nations proposal to set up a UN radio, and on the
difficult situation faced by an independent press sector
facing both its own institutional weaknesses and opposition by
some forces in the Angolan government to greater openness and
freedom of the press. Irrespective of the resolution or non-
resolution of these issues, however, the fact is that large
numbers of Angolans are traumatized, suspicious and
mistrustful, based on their previous experiences of repression
and lack of transparency. They are particularly marked by the
false dawn of the 1992 election, which was followed by greater
violence than in the previous decades of war. The fear to
speak out and participate is not dissipated easily,
particularly since their fear that the international community
may abandon them to their fate in the case of failure is a
fully rational response.

Establishing public confidence in the process cannot be the
task alone of the Angolan press. There are measures that the
national and international parties involved in the process can
take to alleviate this lack of public confidence. But since
all the institutions involved--multilateral organizations and
foreign diplomats as well as Angolan political institutions--
have well-established traditions of lack of transparency, this
will require significant breaks with past practices.

The best way to illustrate this point is with a specific
example. Considerable doubts have been raised, in the Angolan
press and in private comments by Angolan government officials
and others in Luanda, about the "quality" of the quartering of
UNITA troops to date. Talk is widespread about "child
soldiers" and obsolete weapons. Suspicion is widely voiced in
private, among UN officials as well as Angolans, that many of
those quartered are actually civilians or untrained militia
rather than soldiers. The number as well as the quality of
arms turned in does not correspond to the number of soldiers.
These are serious issues which cannot be glossed over.  While
resolution of these points depends primarily on sustained
attention within the Joint Commission involving all the
parties, public confidence could be enhanced by more open
dissemination of data, on such points as age ranges, types of
weapons, and percent of weapons that are good, that is already
agreed on among the parties.

The data collected and accepted by the parties in the Joint
Commission is so far not sufficient to resolve all these
questions, and is undoubtedly being supplemented by
intelligence data collected separately by the parties. But
from the data submitted to the commission, on the basis of
birthdates collected by UN registrars, the widespread talk of
"child soldiers," for example, does seems to be exaggerated,
facilitated by a confusion between children (under 15) and
youth (15-17). Public release of such data could aid in
confidence building by reducing if not eliminating unnecessary

Once such raw data is agreed on by the parties at the Joint
Commission, including the Angolan government, UNITA, UN, the
troika of the U.S., Russia and Portugal, there seems no valid
reason, apart from bureaucratic traditions of lack of
transparency, that they should not be published in full in the
Angolan press and made freely available to all those
interested in the process. This would promote a more informed
public debate, alleviate artificial uncertainties and allow a
more precise focus on the genuine points of doubt, such as
missing weapons and the level of training of quartered troops
as compared with those not yet quartered.

Angolan and international NGOS could facilitate the broad
dissemination of such information, through organizational
channels, word of mouth, publications and electronic means,
thus facilitating the confidence building process and aiding
in the formation of informed public opinion to which the
official parties might hopefully feel some pressures to

(continued in part 2)

ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, UK
Tel: +44 171 833 3133; fax: +44 171 837 3001;

Holland Committee on Southern Africa (KZA),
Oudezijdsachterburgwal 173, 1012 DJ, Amsterdam, The
Netherlands.  Tel: +31-20-6270801, fax: +31-20-6270441, e-

Washington Office on Africa (WOA), 110 Maryland Ave. NE #509,
Washington, DC 20010.  Tel: 202-546-7961; fax: 202-546-1545;

This material is produced and distributed  by the Washington
Office on Africa (WOA), a not-for-profit church, trade union
and  civil rights group supported organization that works with
Congress on Africa-related legislation. WOA's educational
affiliate is the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC).


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