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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived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, 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
UNITA ISOLATED AS MOBUTU FLEES CONGO
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
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
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 THREATENS TO WITHDRAW FROM PEACE PROCESS
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
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
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
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.
COOPERATION WITHIN GURN GROWS
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".
UN SECRETARY GENERAL APPEALS FOR DEMOBILISATION FUNDS
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.
INTEGRATION OF UNITA TROOPS INTO FAA
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.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL AWAITS SECRETARY GENERAL'S REPORT
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
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.
BRUSSELS SOLIDARITY CONFERENCE
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.
NEW BRITISH GOVERNMENT BANS MINES
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.
OAU WORKS TOWARDS BANNING 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.
IMF VISITS ANGOLA
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.
LEADING US MILITARY FIGURE RE-VISITS ANGOLA
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 FOR ANGOLA
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 http://www.anc.org.za/angola
ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, UK, e-mail email@example.com;
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.