Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!
Print this page
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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived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 Monitor, III, 7
Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 7
Date Distributed (ymd): 970331
Document reposted by APIC
ANGOLA PEACE MONITOR
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no.7 Volume III, 27th March 1997
Unity government to form but UNITA top brass stay away
As the Angola Peace Monitor went to press it was looking
increasingly likely that there would be some form of the much
delayed Government of National Unity and Reconciliation
(GURN) in place during April, in the wake of the recent visit
to Angola by the United Nations Secretary General.
However, it is also clear the move does not reflect any real
change in attitude by UNITA to the peace process. There is
growing unease that the desperate drive by the international
community to see the formal installation of the GURN will
make it a hollow victory.
While the moves are likely to stave off the growing threat of
sanctions against UNITA, the prospects for lasting peace in
Angola remain uncertain in the light of two crucial factors on
First, that key figures in UNITA's military and political
structures, including Jonas Savimbi, are to remain outside
the new parliament and Government.
Second, that UNITA continues to strengthen the considerable
military force it keeps under arms.
Annan gives UNITA a further two weeks
The visit by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, from 22 to 25
March, was a personal attempt to try and save the peace
process. However, in the lead up to and during his trip he
experienced at first hand a further series of prevarications
by Jonas Savimbi in implementing promises and obligations
under the Lusaka Protocol.
At the top of his agenda was UNITA's refusal to send its
deputies to the Angolan Parliament, the National Assembly,
and its representatives to the Government of National Unity
and Reconciliation (GURN), and the regrouping of UNITA's
He arrived on 22 March "with the intention of making a
first-hand assessment of the situation and impressing upon the
parties the need to establish the Government of Unity and
National Reconciliation without any further delay".
The UN leader had hoped to be present for the inauguration of
the GURN. Speaking in Cape Town prior to his visit to Angola,
Annan stated that "I hope it will be possible that a national
unity government will be formed during my visit". This
statement, along with a series of UN statements appeared to
reflect a greater preparedness to apply pressure on UNITA.
UN twists UNITA's arm
On 21 March the UN Security Council issued a Presidential
Statement (S/PRST/1997/17) which blamed the non-establishment
of the GURN on UNITA. It warned that if there was not the
installation of the GURN without delay, it would consider
further sanctions against UNITA.
This strong warning to UNITA followed a report to the Security
Council by the Secretary General, where he warned that "the
patience of the international community is wearing thin"
following UNITA's obstruction of the formation of the
Government on Unity and National Reconciliation (GURN).
In his report on 19 March to the Security Council (S/1997/239)
Kofi Annan stated that "it is a matter of very serious
concern that its [GURN] formation has again been postponed,
owing primarily to the failure of UNITA to send all its
officials to Luanda as previously agreed". He put the issue
in sharp focus - "this situation is seriously undermining the
credibility of the peace process and should not be allowed to
On 27 February the Security Council extended the mandate of
UNAVEM III, but only until 31 March. It stated that it
"expresses its readiness, in the light of the report referred
to in paragraph 3 above [Secretary General's report] to
consider the imposition of measures, including, inter alia,
those specifically mentioned in paragraph 26 of resolution 864
(1993) of 15 September 1993". This refers to the possible
imposition of further sanctions against UNITA, including trade
and travel restrictions.
During the debate Sergey Lavrov, ambassador from the Russian
Federation warned that if the GURN was not in place by 31
March, then the Council would have to take additional
measures. US ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, said that
"we are willing to hold these sanctions in abeyance for only
a short while longer". These are two key statements, as along
with Portugal, the US and Russian Federation make up the
Troika who underwrote the Acordos do Paz and the Lusaka
South Africa's ambassador to the UN, Joe Jele, stated that
"the time has come for this august body to act decisively and
consider the implementation of appropriate measures against
UNITA if it does not comply with its commitments".
UN leader visits Savimbi
On 24 March the Secretary General visited Bailundo and met
with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi for 45 minutes. After the
meeting he described as "decisive and concrete steps" the
guarantees given by Savimbi that this week he would send to
Luanda the remaining deputies and GURN members from his
Jonas Savimbi promised Kofi Annan that the deputies would
arrive in Luanda on 25 March, to be sworn in immediately
afterwards. The remaining UNITA nominees for the GURN were
due to arrive in Luanda on 26 March.
Savimbi stated that since the Government had now agreed to
discuss the minimum programme of the GURN, there were now no
obstacles to the creation of the GURN.
This followed late concessions to UNITA when the Government
agreed to discuss the minimum programme. Also agreed during
a marathon session of the Joint Commission [the Joint
Commission is comprised of the UN, the Government, UNITA, and
the three observer states (Russia, United States and
Portugal)] on 21 March was that Savimbi would have the status
of leader of the opposition, and a draft law is to be
submitted to the National Assembly giving him special
privileges, including access to the Cabinet, a diplomatic
passport, a "salary befitting his status", a state residence
and a security detail.
Even then, Savimbi's personal promise to send UNITA personnel
to Luanda was only partially kept when only 9 further
deputies were sent, along with 4 nominees for the GURN. In
total, UNITA had sent 58 out of 70 deputies, and 11 out of 17
nominees for government posts.
Kofi Annan left Angola on the night of 25 March, having spoken
at the National Assembly. He has now recommended to the UN
Security Council that the mandate for the UN mission in Angola
(UNAVEM III) should be extended by two weeks, until the 15
April, in the expectation that the GURN will be in place by
Security Council to decide on action
The UN Security Council will meet prior to 31 March, at which
they are likely to give UNITA a fortnight to get its
personnel to Luanda for the inauguration of the GURN, as
recommended by Kofi Annan.
Threatened Zaire regime rearming UNITA
A report on 20 March in the Washington Post advanced further
evidence tha UNITA is regrouping and rearming itself.
The paper detailed the supply lines which are based on as many
as a dozen arms traders operating out of Kinshasa's N'Djili
International airport using about 15 aircraft.
According to the report, airlines said to be involved in
smuggling weapon to UNITA include Service Air, Air Transport
Office, Guila Air, Africair, Scibe Air, African Air and Air
Excellence. Closely associated with the arms trading are said
to be members of Mobutu's family and his aides. The
Washington Post states that the shipment of arms to UNITA has
been at the expense of Mobutu's own troops, who are said to
be running short of supplies.
The article gives an idea of the amounts of weapons UNITA is
receiving. It states that a Western intelligence report
estimates that 450 tons of Bulgarian arms were sent to UNITA
in October and November 1996. This was mainly composed of
AK-47 assault rifles, 60mm and 120mm mortars and
rocket-propelled grenades and launchers.
This article is further evidence that the international
community is tolerating the pretence that UNITA is standing
down its army.
By 28 November a total of 29,698 personal weapons and 4,521
crew-served weapons had been handed over by UNITA to UNAVEM
III. However, the UN admits that between 30 and 40 per cent
of weapons handed over were old and unusable.
Increase in UNITA soldiers at large
The number of UNITA soldiers operating in Angola is on the
increase as more soldiers desert the quartering areas set up
by the UN, with reports that UNAVEM forces have recently been
barred from UNITA-held areas.
Despite declaring to the UN that it had fully demobilised,
UNITA did not put its elite forces into the quartering areas,
and their numbers are now being swollen by some of the
deserters. The UN admitted on 5 March that there were 26,407
deserters. Some of these were never soldiers, but were
peasants press-ganged by UNITA and taken to the quartering
areas to make up the numbers. However, others were soldiers
who have now returned to their units.
There have been reports of UNITA stepping up actions in areas
under its control. The Portuguese newspaper, Diario de
Noticias, reported on 7 March that UNITA occupy two thirds of
Bie Province, and have recently destroyed the bridge over the
River Cutato on the road between Andulo and Cucinga.
A source said that the bridge was destroyed to bar access to
UN forces to the zones of Caluncinga, Andulo, and the
surrounding districts where UNITA has positioned its
long-range artillery and troops. It is also said that UNITA
are regrouping north of Cunhinga, while new bases are being
set up in other areas.
The Minister of Defence recently flew to the area to head-off
a serious military clash between Government and UNITA forces.
There are now a number of flash-points in the country which
threaten the present cease-fire.
UNITA active in Zaire
There has been growing awareness that UNITA is heavily
involved in supporting its old ally, President Mobutu, in
According to a report in the British-based Guardian newspaper
on 19 March, UNITA soldiers crossed into southern Zaire, from
where they were transported to an air base at Kamina. They
were then flown to the north-east of the country where they
were deployed against the rebels around the towns of Bunia,
Beni and Isoro. The Guardian report states that they have been
fighting a losing battle, with many injuries.
A range of other journals have reported that UNITA is
sustaining heavy casualties in the fighting.
Reports of other Angolan involvement
There have also been reports and allegations that other
Angolans, including Government troops, are present in Zaire
fighting on the side of the rebels. About 1,500 Angolans are
said to be involved, mainly comprised of Katangese
Gendarmerie forces. They were in exile in Angola following
their expulsion from Shaba province in Zaire in the 1960s.
Other sources have been surprised by these allegations, as it
had been believed that the Gendarmerie had been expelled from
Angola around about 1978.
UNITA's Radio Vorgan has claimed that the rebels in Zaire have
been bolstered by troops from the Angolan Armed Forces' First
US warns against involvement in Zaire
During the debate in the UN Security Council on 27 February,
the US Ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, said that "we
would also warn the parties against any involvement in the
conflict in Zaire".
Radio Vorgan criticised
The United Nations has strongly criticised Radio Vorgan for
broadcasting incorrect information which undermines the peace
process. The UN statement said that "Vorgan Radio continues to
broadcast incorrect information, ignoring repeated requests to
halt this practice".
Stalemate delays return of refugees
The representative in Zambia of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees has stated that the lack of movement towards a
lasting peace in Angola is standing in the way of the 100,000
refugees returning home. Speaking on 3 March, Claire Hamlisch
said that only one of three preconditions had been met, namely
the quartering of soldiers. Two other preconditions, the
formation of the Government of National Unity and
Reconciliation and freedom of movement, had not been met.
The Commissioner's representative stated that there were still
147 roadside checkpoints being operated in UNITA controlled
areas. She also blamed UNITA for the delay in the creation of
Hamlisch also drew attention to the problem of landmines,
which although is being addressed, does not yet offer
suitable guarantees for the safety of the refugees. She said
that in the light of the above, the refugees were being asked
to grow their crops in situ rather than waiting until their
Telecom rehabilitation planned
Angola Telecom announced on 2 March that it is preparing to
re-establish telephone communications in all state capitals
damaged by the war. The company is planning to spend $80
million improving services, including the installation of a
digital exchange in Luanda. Similar improvements are to be
carried out in Benguela. Angola Telecom hopes to invest
heavily in a cellular network to compliment the wired system.
According to the company's Director General, Gualberto de
Matos, a major problem they are facing is getting subscribers
to pay for the service. He states that Government agencies owe
about $18 million.
The state diamond company, Endiama, has fixed a production
target of nearly two million carats by the year 2,000.
The company Diamondworks has announced that it hopes to begin
producing diamonds from June 1997 from its project in Luo in
Africa Focus magazine reported on 4 March that Endiama has
invited UNITA to join the joint venture SDM to mine the
Luzamba region of the Cuango Valley. According to a report
from Reuters, SDM plans to make a huge investment in the
region, up to $120 million. The mining will include the
diverting of the River Cuango to mine the river bed. The main
stumbling block with the joint venture is that whilst SDM is
offering to sell UNITA roughly a 10 per cent stake, the rebel
movement wants to be given the shares.
The Angola Peace Monitor is produced every month by ACTSA -
Action for Southern Africa, the successor organisation to the
British Anti-Apartheid Movement. It is produced as our
contribution towards the work of the Angola Emergency
Campaign, which seeks to highlight the need for international
action in support of peace and democracy in Angola.
A subscription to Volume III of the Angola Peace Monitor is
available at a cost of 10 pounds sterling in Britain and 15
pounds sterling elsewhere. Please indicate whether you wish to
receive the Angola Peace Monitor by post or e-mail. Payment
should be made in pounds sterling. If you wish to pay in any
other currency, you must add the equivalent of 6 pounds
sterling to cover our bank charges.
ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, UK; e-mail:
email@example.com, fax +44 171 837 3001, telephone
+44 171 833 3133. Back issues of the Angola Peace Monitor are
available on the World Wide Web at:
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational
affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. APIC's primary
objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States
around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by
concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and