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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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 Monitor, III, 7

Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 7
Date Distributed (ymd): 970331
Document reposted by APIC

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 the ground.

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 soldiers.

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 continue".

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 Protocol.

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 movement.

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 then.

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 Zaire.

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 Uige Regiment.

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 the GURN.

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 repatriation.

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.

Diamond target

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 Lunda Norte.

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:, 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 individuals.

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