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Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 10
Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 10
Date distributed (ymd): 970707
Document reposted by APIC
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Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no.10, Vol III, 30 June 1997
UN Security Council confronted with explosive military tension
Military tension in Angola between the Government and the rebel UNITA
movement is at its highest since the signing of the Lusaka Protocol peace
agreement in 1994, despite the integration of UNITA into the Government
of Unity and National Reconciliation, and the incorporation of some UNITA
soldiers into the national army. Both sides have accused each other of
violent attacks, and more evidence is emerging that UNITA has used the
period of relative peace since 1994 to reorganise and re-arm its forces.
The strong possibility of a return to war has led the United Nations
Security Council to appeal "in the strongest terms to both parties
to refrain from any use of force" in its resolution (SCR 1118) on
30 June 1997. The Security Council decided that the UN Verification Mission
in Angola, UNAVEM III, whose mandate ran out on 30 June, is to be replaced
by the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola, MONUA.
MONUA is to be a scaled-down presence for the UN in Angola, the major
difference being that it will not have "blue helmets", the military
peacekeepers of UNAVEM III who were to keep the peace and verify the completion
of the military aspects of the Lusaka Protocol.
Despite the serious threat of a return to full-scale war, the UN intends
to withdraw its peacekeepers. In his report of 5 June (S/1997/138), the
Secretary General stated his plan to withdraw 900 military personnel in
June, 500 in July and 2,000 in August. The remaining 800 would leave before
the end of September 1997. This is a one month delay over the previous
timetable. One infantry company is to be left until the end of November
1997 to protect UN property.
MONUA's mandate is to be reviewed on 30 October 1997, and is to extend
until 1 February 1998.
Renewed major clashes
The first major clashes between the Government's army, FAA, and UNITA's
military wing, FALA, have taken place along Angola's border with the newly
named Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).
Since the defeat of ex-President Mobutu Sese Seko on 16 May at the hands
of Laurent Kabila's AFDL, thousands of UNITA fighters who had gone to help
the Zairian dictator have been flooding back into the north-east of Angola
(see APM no.9 vol III). They have been joined by refugees and militias
of the extremist Rwandan Hutu Interahamwe. It has also been reported that
joining the influx into Angola were members of Mobutu's defeated presidential
guard. Against this background the Government launched in May what it describes
as a limited operation to secure the border from this cocktail of armed
forces entering its country.
Fighting has taken place in several places, and the Government has made
some gains. In particular, it took the town of Luia, where UNITA had an
airbase. Reporters visiting the area state that the FAA suffered 10 fatalities,
with 47 wounded. UNITA are said to have lost 58 soldiers, with 23 prisoners
The Angolan television company, TPA, and CNN World Reports interviewed
some of the prisoners. One was a Zairian, and another was a UNITA soldier
who had an identity card issued by the UN at the quartering area Vila Nova,
in Huambo (in the centre of the country). Vila Nova is 750km from the area
of the fighting, which indicates that UNITA troops have been flown into
According to the independent Angolan news-sheet, Folha-8, the UNITA
troops are commanded by General Vatuva, who was a UNITA representative
at the Joint Commission, the body composed of the UN, the Angolan Government,
UNITA, and the troika of observer states - Portugal, the United States,
and the Russian Federation. On 24 June Folha-8 stated that 90 per cent
of Angola's 2,500 km border with the Congo is under UNITA's control.
UNAVEM opening eyes
The United Nations Verification Mission in Angola (UNAVEM III) has begun
to publicly question UNITA's commitment to the peace process, following
months of attempted quiet diplomacy.
A strongly worded statement from UNAVEM III on 25 June states that "UNITA
combatants spoken to by the UNAVEM-Troika team which visited the UNITA-controlled
areas ... stated that those fighting the FAA were small groups of 'mining
police'. This begs the question - how can small groups of 'mining police'
engage in the heavy battles which UNITA claim have taken place in the Andrade
The statement also made clear the Mission's displeasure at the Angolan
Government for allowing a group of journalists into the battle area on
21 - 22 June, while on 19 June UN team-site observers in Andrade were not
allowed out of the town "for their own safety".
Joint Commission calls for an end to fighting
The Joint Commission met on 20 June, and put out a statement calling
for the end to the Government military operation.
However, the Joint Commission did state that it "understands the
Government's legitimate security concerns along the Angolan borders".
The Joint Commission also called on UNITA to give it information about
"the UNITA presidential guard and the mining police, whose existence
is not known to UNAVEM III. These forces must abstain from any activity,
and wait to be controlled, verified and demobilised".
Fighting prelude to big clash over diamonds
Despite the significant escalation the fighting in Lunda Norte province
represents, which reportedly finished on 17 June, commentators warn that
it was very limited compared with a possible full-scale confrontation.
UNITA controls 80 per cent of Angola's diamond areas, and earns and
estimated $500 million a year from its illegal mining operations. The state
diamond organisation, Endiama, has been in negotiations with UNITA for
over a year to get UNITA's operations placed on a legal footing.
UNITA's mining company, Sociedade Geral das Minas, has been offered
five mining concessions, and UNITA has been offered a stake in the Sociedade
Mineira de Desenvolvimento, which has been awarded major mining concessions
in the Cuango valley. However, the failure of UNITA to reach agreement
to hand over the diamond regions has caused an impasse.
The diamond-rich province of Lunda Norte is likely to be a focus for
the Government in its attempts to regain control of the country - of which
UNITA controls over two thirds at present. Lunda Norte is also of the highest
strategic importance for UNITA. Apart from their crack-troops returning
from Zaire, there have been reports that 2,000 of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi's
"Presidential" guard have been flown to the area.
During recent clashes UNITA lost some 10 - 15 per cent of the areas
it held in the diamond region. Angolan commentators warn that unless a
formula for the disarmament and quartering of UNITA's army is found, a
large scale return to war is likely.
UNITA's military capacity
Evidence is emerging that UNITA's military capacity is greater than
previously feared. Under the Lusaka Protocol, UNITA committed itself to
disarming, quartering and demobilising its armed forces. However, the UN
Secretary General in his report on 5 June to the Security Council, admitted
that the proportion of deserters from these quartering areas has exceeded
35 per cent.
According to Folha-8 there have been regular flights taking UNITA soldiers
to the Lundas from near the Huambo quartering area at Vila Nova.
The Minister for Territorial Administration, Faustino Muteka, wrote
to the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Angola, Alioune
Blondin Beye, on 5 June warning that UNITA still has an estimated 35,000
soldiers at its disposal.
The Minister alleges that UNITA maintains the following: - in the Northern
Region, 26 battalions, 11 guerrilla columns and 20 platoons, an estimated
6,000 men headed by Brigadier Alex;
- in the Eastern Region, 29 Battalions, seven guerrilla columns and 17
platoons, an estimated 6,000 men headed by Brigadier Mbule;
- in the Central Region, 33 battalions, 30 guerrilla columns and 23 special
groups, an estimated 11,000 men, headed by General Chimuco;
- in the south, UNITA two battalions, eight guerrilla columns, nine special
platoons, around 1,200 men headed by Brigadier Yendelele;
- in Kuando Kubango around nine battalions, five guerrilla columns, six
special commando groups, around 5,000 men headed by Brigadier Kalutotay.
New arms for UNITA
According to the South African-based Mail and Guardian, large quantities
of new arms have been entering the country destined for UNITA, including
new Stinger missiles - advanced hand-held anti-aircraft weapons.
There have also been detailed allegations by the Institute for Security
Studies in South Africa that east European and South African arms for UNITA
have recently been smuggled into Angola via northern Mozambique.
These allegations have been strongly questioned by the media in Mozambique.
Journalists with good connections with the Mozambican security services
maintain that the authorities have no knowledge of the alleged trade, and
question whether Mozambique is being used as a "whipping boy"
for other undisclosed reasons.
Defector warns of UNITA's military capacity
A former UNITA Colonel who defected after refusing to take part in further
fighting, has warned that Jonas Savimbi intends to launch another war in
order to renegotiate the terms of the Lusaka Protocol.
Colonel Altino Rafael Cassange, who deserted in May, warned a press
conference on 24 June that UNITA maintained 75 per cent of its forces outside
of the quartering areas. He estimated that the total number of troops at
Jonas Savimbi's immediate disposal was 60,000 men.
The Colonel stated that UNITA maintains intact various bases and airstrips
in the north-east, north and centre of the country, and has hidden various
types of weapons from the UN. Their main concentration is in the Lundas,
Malange, Kuanza Norte, Bengo and Uige. The defector detailed how UNITA
had switched tactics since the fall of Mobutu in Zaire. He pointed out
that UNITA was planning for an urban guerrilla war because "one cannot
have a front without a rear-base".
Government forces strengthened by UNITA
The strength of the Government's army, FAA, has increased through the
incorporation of some ex-UNITA elements into their ranks. UNAVEM reported
on 20 June that 11,123 former UNITA soldiers had been incorporated into
FAA. In total, 18,000 soldiers are due to join FAA. However, there have
been problems getting UNITA fighters to join FAA voluntarily. Either they
do not wish to follow a military career, or are carrying out the orders
of their UNITA commanders.
One of the central military figures in Lunda Norte is Adriano Makevela
Mackenzie, who joined the Angolan army in 1992. Many of his troops were
integrated into FAA through the Lusaka Protocol.
In its 24 June issue, Folha-8 interviewed Lopes Antonio "Escuirinho",
a former UNITA soldier who joined FAA in January 1997 after being quartered
in Quibaxe. He stated that he had participated in combat against UNITA.
Under the Lusaka Protocol, the second in command of FAA is a member
of UNITA, General Arlindo Chenda Ben Ben. This is one of the many contradictions
within the current situation.
Military tensions rise in other regions
There have been reports that military tensions are at breaking point
in provinces other than the Lundas.
UNITA has claimed that there have been offensives against it in the
south-western province of Huila, and that three towns controlled by UNITA
have been taken back by the FAA in Benguela province. It also claims that
an offensive has been launched by the Government in the north west of the
country, between Soyo and Pedra-de-Feitico.
According to a report in the official government news agency, ANGOP,
UNITA has destroyed a bridge in the municipality of Quimbele, Uige province
on 23 June. The London-based Times stated on 25 June that UNITA is mobilising
its forces in Uige. The Portuguese radio station, Radio Renascenca, reported
on 11 June that the government alleges that UNITA soldiers are fighting
in Bie province and have tried to take the outskirts of Kuito.
Extension of state administration halted
The process of extending Government control to areas occupied by UNITA
has ground to a halt following violence against officials taking part in
The most serious incident happened in Quibala, in Kuanza Sul province
on 30 May, where deputy minister for local government, Miguel N'zau Puna,
and UNITA's chief representative on the Joint Commission, Isaias Samakuva,
were beaten by a hostile UNITA crowd. Africa Confidential states that they
were beaten and called "traitors". N'zau Puna was a general in
UNITA's army, before setting up the Angolan Democratic Forum.
Ceremonies on 28 May at Alta Hama and Vila Nova in the central Huambo
province, were met by violent pro-UNITA crowds. On the same day, in Londiumbali
UNITA crowds refused to allow the hoisting of the Angolan national flag.
An attempt was made to attack N'zau Puna.
According to Angolan-based BBC World Service journalist, Barnaby Phillips,
Isaias Samakuva claims that the attack was carried out by local hotheads.
Phillips points to speculation that there are serious divisions between
Luanda-based UNITA politicians who are making a go of the peace process,
and hard-line generals who remain with Jonas Savimbi outside the capital
and the process.
Repatriation of refugees delayed by UNITA occupation
The return of 27,000 Angolan refugees based in north west Zambia is
being delayed because of UNITA's occupation of most of Moxico province.
According to Angola's ambassador to Zambia, Manuel Augusto, the repatriation
will now be delayed until August at the earliest.
There are more than 300,000 Angolans who fled fighting in the country.
There are 200,000 in Congo, 96,000 in Zambia, 12,000 in Congo-Brazzaville
and 1,000 in Namibia. A further 15,000 are scattered in 32 other countries.
The UNHCR needs to raise $38.2 million to pay for the return programme,
but has so far only raised $4.6 million.
IOM gets part of funds
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), who last month put
out an urgent appeal for $48 million to fund the return of ex-combatants
to civil society (see APM no.9 vol III), had by 4 June received $4 million.
On 13 June the IOM warned that it may have to suspend operations in Angola
by the end of June if more money is not forthcoming.
Poor rains lead to harvest shortfall
The World Food Programme published a report on 26 May pointing out that
poor rainfall has led to this year's harvest failing to meet the needs
of the population. The WFP estimates that there will be a 530,000 tonnes
deficit to be met by imports, of which 251,000 tonnes will need to be met
by food aid.
Angolans accused in Congo-Brazzaville violence
Both the Angolan Government and the rebel UNITA movement have been accused
of having a role in the present violence in its northern neighbour Congo-Brazzaville.
The London-based newsletter, Africa Confidential, published on 20 June
reports of UNITA fighting alongside the current President Pascal Lissouba's
militias. UNITA has moved its main African office to Brazzaville following
the downfall of Mobutu in Zaire. Africa Confidential also accused the Angolan
Government of channelling arms to the Cobra militia led by General Denis
Sassou Nguesso. Sassou Nguesso was the President from 1979 to 1992.
UNITA dissident MP resigns
A further hurdle to the smooth operation of the Angolan parliament,
the National Assembly, was cleared when a deputy expelled from UNITA formally
resigned from parliament.
Norberto de Castro was elected through the 1992 elections, but contrary
to UNITA policy took his seat in the National Assembly. (see APM no.8,
vol III). UNITA expelled de Castro from the rebel movement, and has demanded
that he be expelled from the legislature as well.
Two other parliamentarians expelled by UNITA, Fatima Roque and Honorio
van Dunem, have also resigned.
UN need more powers - Government
The Angolan Government on 24 June called for the UN to increase the
power of its verification mission, as it needs "effective intelligence
and reconnaissance mechanisms to detect and identify UNITA's undeclared
military and para-military forces outside UNAVEM control".
The Government document, sent to the UN Secretary General, states that
UNAVEM "should not minimise the gravity of the current situation in
the Angola peace process, but fulfil its responsibilities as the international
guarantor of the Lusaka Protocol, proceeding responsibly, among other tasks,
to ensure the monitoring and verification of the demilitarisation of UNITA".
The Government further proposed that 25 June be declared the deadline for
the completion of the incorporation of UNITA forces into the Angolan army,
and that 5 July be the end of the quartering of the Rapid Intervention
Police. The Rapid Intervention Police, known locally as "Ninjas",
have a strong and fearsome reputation for fighting UNITA in the urban areas
after UNITA's return to war in 1992.
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.
ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, 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
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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.