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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, 11

Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 11
Date distributed (ymd): 970801
Document reposted by APIC

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Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no. 11, Volume III, 17 July 1997

Increased UNITA attacks fuel fears of renewed war

Attacks by UNITA have increased dramatically in recent weeks, leading to hundreds of people fleeing for the shelter of Government-held towns. This is being read as a clear sign of the military leadership of UNITA'S determination to fiercely resist the agreed process of the extension of state administration to all parts of the country. The was expected to follow on from the formation in April of the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, of which UNITA is a partner. It is estimated that UNITA continues to occupy two-thirds of the country.

Military sources in Luanda suggest that the increase in attacks is a sign that UNITA is regrouping. The main area of tension is along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). In June this was the region where the Angolan army, FAA, launched an operation to stem the flow of armed elements entering the country following the defeat of President Mobutu (see APM no.10, Vol III).

Sources state that the Government operation in this area is over and that UNITA has now counter-attacked, taking back several areas retaken by FAA. Lieutenant General Marques Correia said on 7 July that UNITA had launched six military operations to recover lost positions. He gave as an example that UNITA has seized the mining area of Maludi.

Ominously, General Corriea said that "UNITA forgets that if this situation continues we will bring in reinforcements and take control of the situation once and for all".

On 3 July the Government spokesperson on the Joint Commission, Higino Carneiro, said that an attack had taken place on a border post 55km from Nsange. General Adriano Mackenzie on 4 July stated on Radio Nacional de Angola that UNITA had attacked border posts at Itanda, Cambamba and Muaquesse, and attacked and remined roads in the area.

UN condemn UNITA for attacks and hijacks

The United Nations Observer Mission in Angola, MONUA, (the successor to UNAVEM III) has condemned UNITA for stepping up military actions along the border.

A team of five MONUA military observers, sent to the border to investigate allegations of UNITA attacks, were detained for three days by UNITA personnel. MONUA released a joint statement with the Troika of observer states (the United States, Portugal and the Russian Federation) in which they "condemn in the strongest terms these negative acts on the part of UNITA".

MONUA has found that UNITA has occupied border posts. The head of MONUA's military component, General Phillip Sibanda of Zimbabwe, told the joint commission that it was clear that an attack had taken place. A team of military observers had travelled to the neighbouring villages of Muquenda, Calibuitchi, Camueca and Mbanji, all of which had recently been abandoned. Burned huts were visible in Mbanji.

The statement continued that MONUA observers had flown by helicopter over the villages of Antonio, Luaco and Sapoco and seen signs that raids or harassment attacks had taken place. The statement concluded that "the joint commission condemns UNITA for acts, whose veracity has not been contested, which are against the relevant provisions of the Lusaka Protocol".

The attack follows an incident on 7 June when a WFP plane was prevented from leaving a UNITA area, and three UNAVEM military observers were beaten.

Attacks to clear way for returning troops

The attacks along the border are an attempt to clear a path for returning UNITA troops, who were defeated in Zaire. A source recently returned from Angola states that UNITA has several battalions just over the border in DR Congo, and are desperate to get them into Lunda Norte.

As previously reported in the Angola Peace Monitor, the Lundas contain the most productive diamond mines in Angola, and UNITA is believed to be illegally mining over $500 million worth of diamonds every year. This accounts for UNITA's determination to block the extension of state administration to the province.

World Food Programme warning

The World Food Programme warned on 10 July that six thousand people have recently fled the fighting in Lunda Norte, and that many of them now face severe food shortages.

The refugees have fled to the small mining town of Nzaji. A study has found that 13.8 per cent of the children sheltering in the town of Maludi were suffering from severe malnutrition. The situation in Nzaji is said to be less acute.

Attacks reported elsewhere

There have been many reports of attacks and military movements by UNITA throughout the country. Estimates are that UNITA continues to have military control over two-thirds of the country.

Amongst recent reports:

  • MONUA has confirmed that on 7 July there was an attack on a dam on the Cunge River, 6km from Camacupa in Bie province, and that a two hour firefight took place. The dam is not a particularly important target as its electricity production was halted in 1992 during a previous attack by UNITA. * The official Angolan news agency, ANGOP, has reported concerns about troop movements in Bie province, and the fear that UNITA may attack the town of Camacupa.
  • The police chief of Benguela province on 14 July said that UNITA's leader, Jonas Savimbi, had personally travelled to the villages of Chicuma and Ebanga in Benguela to incite the population. According to Rual Hoka, Savimbi told his audience that UNITA would soon seize the towns of Ganda, Cubal, Caimbambo and Chongoroi. According to Hoka, 800 young men had recently been recruited into UNITA's army and sent to Bimbi, near Bailundo.
  • It has been suggested by sources in Luanda that one objective of UNITA is to re-capture Huambo city, with the aim of splitting the country.
  • Televisao Popular de Angola reported on 8 July that UNITA has 1,200 heavily armed troops at Chicomba District in Huila Province.
  • On 9 July AFP reported that 14 people were hacked to death by UNITA fighters in an attack on the southern village of Canajoaxa.
  • UNITA is also said to be preventing demining in Malanje province.

UNITA rearm and refuel

A source recently returned from Angola states that a witness has seen 200 drums of diesel being unloaded at the airstrip in Andulo. It is understood that after Lunda Norte's Luzamba, Bie's town of Andulo is a major priority for Jonas Savimbi.

UNITA remining

UNITA has started to plant mines, which flies in the face of demining efforts. In Angola mines kill and maim thousands of civilians, and hinder agricultural production and the free movement of people and goods.

A MONUA spokesperson, David Hamshurt, stated that UNITA troops had replanted landmines on roads which had been cleared and reopened by the United Nations.

Lieutenant-General Marques Correia said that UNITA was mining the road to the provincial capital of Lunda Norte. Major Joao Carlos Carvalho on 4 July accused UNITA of planting mines along the Cacula-Quilengues road, Cacula-Caluquembe-Caconda road and the Matala-Jamba road.

Meanwhile, the Angolan Minister for External Relations, Vanancio de Moura, said on 16 June that Angola would sign the Ottawa convention banning the manufacture, distribution, use and storage of anti-personnel mines.

Savimbi holds court to VIPs

On 7 July, UN Special Representative Alioune Blondin Beye visited Andulo to discuss the present crisis with Jonas Savimbi.

It is understood that Blondin Beye needs to complete a report to the UN Secretary General by the end of July, and that he is still trying to get Jonas Savimbi to retreat from his present path.

Sources in Luanda say that Savimbi is also due to receive a special emissary from the US administration. The emissary is said to be carrying a plea for Savimbi to step back from war, with the message that he if he does not, he will get no further support from the administration.

Angolan army integrates ex-UNITA elements

On 10 July the Angolan army completed the integration of former UNITA fighters into its ranks.

Under the Lusaka Protocol and subsequent agreements, UNITA was to provide 26,000 soldiers for the united army. However, this number was renegotiated down to 18,000. In the end only just over 11,000 volunteers joined FAA.

The majority of the fit soldiers in the UNITA demobilisation camps have deserted--numbering over 15,000--many rejoining UNITA's military machine. Most of those left were either very young, disabled, or forcibly recruited by UNITA to make up the numbers. Out of the 11,000 that did volunteer to join FAA, 350 have become officers, 750 NCO's and 10,000 privates.

An observer of the ceremony to complete FAA reported that UNITA's General Ben Ben gave a speech, the content of which was interpreted as being a sign of loyalty to FAA.

Signs of splits in UNITA

There are growing signs that UNITA may yet split between moderates who have taken up positions in the state, and militants who remain with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi.

According to the UN Development Programme's resident representative in Angola, Bernard Ntegeye: "it is incredible to see the great symbiosis between the two groups [UNITA and MPLA]; it is quite clear that they all see the same objective, namely, to have the government functioning".

Ntegeye told correspondents at a press conference in New York at the end of June that UNITA members within the Government were very active. Some people had suggested that their entry had injected more elements of transparency into the government; their presence was a very welcome one, and he was personally very optimistic.

However, on 4 July a captured UNITA lieutenant, Paulo Tumo, told a press conference that UNITA military chiefs are executing all UNITA elements committed to the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol. It is impossible at present to verify this claim. However, this would repeat a pattern where at key points of military tension, Jonas Savimbi has led a purge of very senior colleagues, who have either fled to Government held areas or been killed.

UN talk tough on UNITA troops

The United Nations has made a significant change from its approach of turning a blind eye to UNITA's military capacity, and put the burden of the blame for the present crisis on the rebel organisation.

Whereas previous Security Council resolutions have called on both sides to abide by the provisions of the Lusaka Protocol, the agreement underpinning the peace process, the latest resolution on 30 June (S/RES/1118 - 1997) uses the phrase "calls upon the Government of Angola and in particular UNITA to ...", placing the emphasis on UNITA. The resolution also makes clear that UNITA has a military force at large in the country, contrary to UNITA's declaration in December 1996 that it had quartered all its forces.

The Security Council "demands that UNITA provide to the Joint Commission without delay complete information regarding all armed personnel under its control, including the security detachment of the leader of the Largest Opposition Party, the so-called 'mining police', armed UNITA personnel returning from outside the national boundaries, and any other armed UNITA personnel not previously reported to the United Nations, in order for them to be verified, disarmed and demobilised in accordance with the Lusaka Protocol and agreements between the parties in the context of the Joint Commission".

One crucial aspect of the Security Council resolution was that it requested "the Secretary General to report on the situation by 15 August 1997". The Security Council is to review the situation at the end of August. Diplomatic sources in Luanda suggest that unless there is an unexpected volte-face by Savimbi, the next step to be taken could be the imposition of further sanctions against UNITA.

Some commentators suggest that the Angolan army, FAA, is waiting until after this report is compiled, perhaps as early as the end of July, before launching an operation against UNITA in Lunda Norte.

Speaking on 27 June, prior to the Security Council meeting, the Secretary General's Special Representative to Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, said that an investigation by UNAVEM showed that "UNITA forces it saw were different from what was proclaimed in a UNITA statement last December".

Mungo possibly new headquarters

Sources in Angola state that Jonas Savimbi has ordered a residence to be built in Mungo, 12km north of Huambo.

Constant movements of UNITA soldiers are reported in the area, and it has been claimed that the local population is being trained to oppose the restoration of state administration in the area.

State administration spreads slowly

Government administration was reinstated in Sumba and Quelo in Zaire province in northern Angola on 30 June. By this date the Government had only taken over 12 of the 145 places scheduled for transfer.

UNITA troops in Republic of Congo

The Angolan Ambassador to the United Nations, Afonso Van-Dunem "Mbinda" speaking before the UN Security Council in New York on 30 June alleged that UNITA has 2,000 troops at Point Noire in the Republic of Congo.

Demobilisation continues

The demobilisation of UNITA troops continues, despite evidence that many of them are returning to their military units.

The International Organisation for Migration announced on 7 July that it had provided return and resettlement assistance to 19,238 demobilised soldiers, mainly from UNITA.

It reports that the pace of demobilisation has increased, with an average of 1,000 a day being demobilised during June. However, it warns that over $10 million was required to complete the process.

However, there is a growing awareness that demobilised soldiers are rejoining UNITA's military force and taking part in fighting. A UN Military Commander, Colonel Subrata Saha, said on 12 July that 96% of UNITA ex-soldiers in Uige province are now in areas under UNITA control.

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 the World Wide Web at:

ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA,
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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