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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, 9

Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 9
Date distributed (ymd): 970605
Document reposted by APIC

Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign Issue no.9 Vol III, 30 May 1997


The rebel movement UNITA has lost its final major international backer following the flight of ex-President Mobutu Sese Seko on 16 May from the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire. This has huge implications for the unfolding peace process in Angola, where UNITA is simultaneously participating in the new Government of Unity and National Reconciliation (GURN) while maintaining military control over huge areas of the country. The victory of Laurent Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) in Congo has had an immediate influence in Angola, with an attempt by the Angolan army to halt the influx of thousands of refugees from Congo.

UNITA had survived its abandonment by its previous backers, the United States and apartheid South Africa. However, it had grown increasingly reliant on the Zaire regime for breaking international sanctions, supplying UNITA with arms and petroleum produce. Last October/November, over 450 tons of Bulgarian arms (assault rifles, 60mm and 120mm mortars and rocket-propelled grenades and launchers) were shipped to UNITA via Zaire. UNITA also used Zaire as its main conduit for the smuggling of diamonds, mined by UNITA in areas under its military control. Estimated UNITA income last year from diamonds was around $660 million.

UNITA defence of Mobutu

UNITA had given its full backing to the Mobutu regime, sending many of its best fighters to support Mobutu as the Zairian army retreated in the face of battle. This is despite assurances given by UNITA to the international community, which have de facto been accepted, that they have disarmed and quartered all their troops.

During the battle for the town of Kenge at the beginning of May, a leader of Zaire's Christian Democrat and Social Party, said that he believed that those fighting in support of the Mobutu regime were UNITA personnel. He said "our soldiers have always refused to fight. I believe Angolan former rebels from UNITA must be backing the Zairian troops". The medical aid organisation, Medicins sans Frontieres, also claimed that UNITA troops were present in the Kenge battle.

This was confirmed by Edi Angulu, the Geneva-based representative of the AFDL, who also claimed that other troops supporting the Mobutu regime were members of the Rwandan Hutu army who fled Rwanda following the civil war. Sources in the camp of AFDL claim that up to 5,000 UNITA soldiers were involved in the last ditch operation.

The presence of UNITA troops in Congo was also recognised by the US administration. Addressing the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Angola on 24 April, George Moose, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said "UNITA admits that it maintains a presence in Zaire to guarantee its supply route". He continued that despite international mandatory sanctions on arms or oil sales to UNITA, they have continued to buy weapons from neighbouring countries "particularly Zaire".

Angolan support for Kabila

The US official also stated that "reports indicate that the Katangese have played an important military role in support of the rebel alliance (the Zairian rebels who have now taken administrative control of Congo)". This refers to the Katangese Gendarmerie forces that moved to Angola following a failed uprising in Shaba province in the 1960s.

Whilst some commentators have accused the Angolan government of arming and transporting the Katangese, others - such as the Voice of Zaire radio station - have accused the Angolan government's army of direct intervention. Both UNITA and the Angolan government have denied the allegations.


UNITA has again threatened to withdraw from the peace process, following major movements of Angolan troops along the border with Congo. The threat to withdraw comes after several areas previously under the control of UNITA were taken back by the Angolan army (FAA).

This threat highlights the dangerous contradictions between the participation of UNITA in the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation and the unified Angolan army, and UNITA's continued military occupation of much of the country. Under the Lusaka Protocol, the agreement underpinning the peace process, UNITA was obliged to lay down its arms and allow the government of Angola (of which it is now a part) to resume administrative control throughout the country. Despite the serious dangers posed by the delays in this fragile transition, the United Nations peacekeeping mission is continuing its withdrawal from the country.

UNITA accuses government of Lunda attacks

On 23 May, Reuters quoted a UNITA general as saying that "the FAA has entered into our areas in Lunda Norte and has taken the towns of Muinda, Canzar, Cambulo and Buia". The areas in question are along the border with Congo.

Senior UNITA National Assembly member, Isaias Samakuva, said that "We still want to go forward, but obviously if this offensive continues we will call a halt to it. If the army keeps this up, if they insist on taking these areas militarily, then there will be no more peace process for UNITA".

The areas where the Angolan army is said to be taking up positions are of strategic importance to both sides, as the Lundas are the main diamond regions, with some of the richest areas under UNITA's control. This continuing army action has not yet brought confrontation with the crack troops that UNITA has protecting its major diamond mining interests.

However, UN spokesperson Yacou Batebe stated on 29 May that a UN inspection team visited the region and found no evidence to support UNITA's allegations. Quoted by the South African Press Association, Batebe stated that "we checked [the allegations] and they were not true".

Two major issues are at stake at present: the sealing of the border with Congo, and the extension of state administration.

Sealing of border

The movement along the border with Congo is the latest in a series of actions by the Angolan government to seal off the border. On 24 April the Interior Minister, Andre Pitra "Petroff", warned of the need for border controls to stop the large number of Rwandan Hutu refugees from crossing into the country. 24 men were arrested in the town of Dundo and accused of using arms to force their way into the country.

Amnesty International states that at least 500 refugees are reported to have crossed into areas under the control of UNITA. Amnesty says that the Angolan government is breaking its international obligations by keeping out Rwandese Hutu refugees. On 13 May the Angolan government stated its "concern over the movement of refugees and armed men along the common border with Zaire, in view of the conflict which has hit that country."

It continued that "the repeated attempts by armed men to infiltrate Angola endangers the country's territorial integrity and its population. Thus, the government of the Republic of Angola has decided to reinforce its security and protection forces along the common border with Zaire, notably in the northeast region, to avoid this massive influx of people, which could endanger the country's stability and internal order".

The UN High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, suggested on 13 May that a humanitarian corridor be set up in Angola to help Rwandan refugees to return to Rwanda.

A spokesperson for UNHCR said that 500 refugees had been given supplies in Angola before being returned to Zaire. The UNHCR suggested that a further 12,000 refugees were close to the border. The UNHCR wishes to use stocks presently held in Angola for these refugees, with the stocks being replaced subsequently. Other sources put the total number of refugees attempting to get into Angola at 17,500.

Under the scheme, the refugees would be taken to the town of Dundo, from where they would be airlifted to Rwanda. The spokesperson, Pamela O'Toole, said that former Rwandan Hutu soldiers, who were responsible for the death of at least half a million Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were among the refugees.

UNHCR spokesperson Paul Stromberg said that "it is not clear how many people are still running, but all we know is that the ex-FAR [ex-Rwandan army] and Interahamwe [Hutu militia] have been pushing people, mainly women and children".

This was supported by another UNHCR official, who said that "a significant number of those who might have been involved in the genocide of 1994 have found their way to the Angolan border". Already 700,000 Rwandan Hutus have returned to Rwanda from Congo over their adjoining border.

The sealing of the border has also blocked the escape route of the 10,000 UNITA soldiers estimated by the Angolan government to be in Congo.

Extension of state administration

UNITA has been accused of continuing to place obstacles in the way of the long awaited extension of state control throughout the country, putting serious strains on the peace process.

On 30 April the government, which now includes UNITA representatives, regained control of MBanza Congo, the capital of Zaire Province. The Governor, Ludi Kissassunda, was formally installed at a ceremony on 2 May. These events were the first stage of the extension of government control to the whole country as set out and agreed under the Lusaka Protocol.

However on 19 May the coordinators of the body overseeing the extension of state administration, the GOIC - which includes delegates from the government, the UN, the troika of observer nations (Russian Federation, United States of America and Portugal), and UNITA - issued a communique stating that since MBanza Congo "none of the longed for progress has been made".

The communique clearly blames UNITA for the delay, stating that "the government finds itself prevented, once more, from peacefully carrying out the programmes for the towns and villages in the provinces of Huambo, Benguela, Kwanza-Sul, Bengo, Uige and Zaire". It goes on to express its "severe disquiet and indignation about these new delaying manoeuvres by UNITA, which by their nature are capable of causing localised conflicts as a result of the reinstallation of state administration, which will go ahead with or without UNITA". It also warns that UNITA will "be held responsible for all the consequences which can follow its lack of cooperation".

This bellicose statement, together with the troop movements in the diamond regions suggests a renewed confidence in the Angolan government following events in Congo.

However, Angola specialist Augusta Conchiglia stated in a paper presented to the Solidarity Conference with the people of Angola, held in Brussels on 25 May, that "it is barely possible that the government would act without UNITA's consent".

She highlighted the danger still posed by UNITA when she blamed the rebel movement for an attack on a battalion of UN peace-keepers who on 20 May were heading for the UNITA-held Vila Nova. During the attack a Brazilian soldier was killed and another injured.

The journalist continued that "despite this grave incident, it is hardly possible that UNAVEM would slow down its operations for withdrawing its contingents from the country. Its premature departure contradicts one of the aims of the UNAVEM mission - the supposed verification of the reinstallation of the state administration and the establishment of conditions permitting freedom of travel for people and goods".

Conchiglia quotes the vice-minister for territorial administration, the former UNITA member Nzau Puna, as saying that UNITA is relying on the early departure of UNAVEM to prolong with impunity its occupation of large tracts of the country.


Sources in Angola are suggesting that in contrast to the political situation in the countryside, the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation (GURN) is working relatively smoothly.

Invested on 11 April, the GURN is made up of 29 ministers and 56 vice-ministers. These are drawn from all political parties represented in the Angolan parliament - the National Assembly.

Journalist Augusta Conchiglia reports that the UNITA ministers and members of the National Assembly "take their task very seriously, even with zeal, forcing themselves to demonstrate their competence and devotion to public opinion and international observers".

Africa Confidential, on 23 May, commented that "as most of UNITA's political class enjoy the good life in Luanda, many MPLA officials see a split developing between UNITA moderates and hard-liners, most of whom have remained with Savimbi in Bailundo".


The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has made an emergency appeal on behalf of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), stating that the demobilisation programme for the current year was costed at $48 million. Launching the appeal on 16 May, the UN leader stated that the IOM had less than a million dollars towards this total.

The need over the next three months was put at $15 million. The IOM warned on 25 May that unless the situation improved, the programme would have to be halted. A spokesperson for the IOM described the situation as dire. Jean Victor Nkolo for the IOM stated that "the problem is that the peace process itself is at stake here".

Following Kofi Annan's intervention, the IOM has received pledges of $300,000 from Austrialia, $455,000 from Denmark, $400,000 from Italy, $650,000 from Sweden, and possibly $500,000 from Portugal. Britain and the United States were considering the appeal.

The demobilisation of UNITA troops currently in the assembly areas is continuing slowly, with the IOM stating that as of 26 May 10,568 soldiers (including those under-age and disabled) had been demobilised.


The latest figures available from the UN show that the number of UNITA troops integrated into the Angolan army had increased to 10,955 by 6 May, out of a total of 19,130 selected.

However, the total number of UNITA troops and police that had deserted rose to 20,051 - leaving 23,755 troops and 3,392 policemen in the camps.


The UN Security Council will meet at the end of June, when it will discuss the future of the UN mission in Angola. In particular, it is awaiting a report from the Secretary General, due before 6 June, containing his recommendations regarding the structure, specific goals, and cost implications of a follow-on mission.

Many of the provisions of the Lusaka Protocol are now in place. There is a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, and some senior UNITA generals have been appointed to leading positions in the Angolan army. Yet the tasks of the UN Verification Mission in Angola (UNAVEM III) is far from complete.

UNAVEM III still needs a presence to verify that the sections of the Lusaka Protocol relating to the extension of state administration, and the transformation of UNITA into a non-military force are carried out.


The Comite Afrique Australe; Presence et Action Culturelles Molenbeek; and Solidarite Socialiste held a solidarity conference entitled - Angola: towards reconciliation? on 24 May in Brussels. Speakers included Paulo Jorge, member of the political bureau of the MPLA; Fernando Pacheco, Director of the Angolan NGO - ADRA; Professor Silas Cerqueira; Professor William Bossier; and journalist Chris Gordon.

In her speech to the conference, Chris Gordon warned of the dangers posed by UNITA's occupation of diamond mines in the Lundas, and of the probability of military clashes if formal agreements on UNITA concessions are not reached soon.


The recently elected Labour government announced on 20 May a complete ban on the manufacture, transfer, import and export of anti-personnel landmines, with a pledge to destroy British stockpiles by 2005, or sooner if an international ban is agreed. They also placed a ban on their use by British forces, except with prior approval by Parliament.

Included in the ban are "smart mines" which destroy themselves after a given period. Also banned are the anti-tank mine L27, which can be triggered by a human; and the HB876, which is part of the high tech JP-233 bomb used by the Royal Air Force to destroy airfields.

The previous government had sought to pursue a policy of promoting "smart mines" as an alternative to "dumb" mines.


A three day conference on landmines, sponsored by the Organisation of African Unity, opened in Johannesburg on 19 May. OAU General Secretary, Salim Ahmed Salim stated that "it is imperative that Africans should devote efforts to the total global banning of mines". At present only South Africa, Mozambique and Congo have announced national prohibitions on landmine use.

According to a recent report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, surgical care and the fitting of an orthopaedic appliance cost at least $3,000. The ICRC estimates that one out of every 334 people in Angola is an amputee as compared to one in every 22,000 in the United States. The United Nations humanitarian agency, UCAH, estimates that there are between 50,000 and 100,000 amputees in Angola. An estimated 15 million landmines are still in the Angolan earth.


The Angolan news agency, ANGOP, reported on 23 May that the International Monetary Fund was due to send a delegation to Angola at the end of May to review the country's economic reforms.


The second-in-command of the North American troops in Europe, General James Jamerson, arrived in Luanda on 20 May for another 24 hour visit to discuss military cooperation between the two countries. He was to meet Minister of Defence, Pedro Sebastiao and Chief of Staff of FAA, General Joao de Matos. The US general also visited Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.


The Angolan state energy company, Sonangol, announced on 14 May that it, along with several American and European oil companies, has discovered a new petroleum field off the coast of Angola. The initial results indicate a production capacity of around 7,500 barrels of crude oil a day.

Also, on 6 May Chevron reported that it had begun production from the North N'Dola off-shore oil field.


Coca-Cola and Indol International (a subsidiary of South African Breweries) announced on 5 May that it is to build a $20 million plant at Bom Jesus, 60km from Luanda.

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. Back issues of the Angola Peace Monitor are available on

ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, UK, e-mail; fax +44 171 837 3001; telephone +44 171 833 3133.

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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