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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, IV, 1

Angola: Peace Monitor, IV, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 971006
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents: UN defers UNITA sanctions under US pressure. UNITA buys
time with last-minute territorial concessions but reports suggest remobilization continues.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign

Issue no.1, Vol IV, 2nd October 1997

"Unacceptable" last minute concessions save UNITA from sanctions

The United Nation's Security Council on 29 September in New York stepped back from their promise to impose further sanctions on the Angolan rebel movement, UNITA, the day before the sanctions were due to come into force (see APM no.12, Vol III).

The sanctions agreed by the Security Council, under the Presidency of Britain's Ambassador to the UN, John Weston, on 28 August, would have placed travel restrictions on senior UNITA members, banned flights (apart from of a humanitarian nature) into UNITA-held areas, and closed down UNITA offices internationally.

The decision to back down from confronting UNITA was taken under heavy pressure from the United States, who in September took over the monthly rotating Presidency of the Security Council. The move shocked senior figures involved in the peace process both in Angola and internationally. Now UNITA has been given a further month of grace.

Under the latest Security Council resolution, the additional sanctions have been "postponed until 00.01 EST on 30 October 1997". The sanctions will then, as set out in the previous resolutions, come into effect unless "concrete and irreversible steps" to comply with all the obligations set out under the Lusaka Protocol have been taken by UNITA, including the demilitarisation of all its forces, transformation of its Radio Vorgan into a non-party political broadcaster, and fully cooperating with the process of extending state administration throughout the country.

The previous resolution also specifically demanded that UNITA provide immediately to the Joint Commission accurate and complete information on the strength of all its armed personnel, in order for them to be verified, disarmed and demobilised.

The decision of the Security Council is in stark contrast to the report from Kofi Annan on 13 August where he stated that "last minute half-hearted concessions by UNITA, under pressure and on the eve of Security Council deliberations are no longer acceptable".

Passing Resolution 1130, the Security Council noted the report of the Secretary-General of 24 September, "and subsequent information on steps taken by UNITA".

UNITA withdraws from Negage and Cuango

In the face of international pressure for them to comply fully with the Lusaka Protocol, the agreement signed in 1994 underpinning the peace process, Jonas Savimbi's rebel movement has been able to stave off international action by the surrender of two towns.

Typical of UNITA's tactics, the rebel movement waited until 29 September before handing over the town of Negage to state administration. Negage had recently been used by UNITA as a major military base, with the airstrip being used to fly in weapons and troop reinforcements.

However, by 29 September UNITA troops who occupied the town had retreated into the countryside. Hundreds of local people heard speeches from Angolan Government, UN and UNITA representatives.

On 30 September the diamond-rich municipality of Cuango was handed over to state administration. The hand-over was attended by Minister for Territorial Administration, Faustino Muteka, who stressed that "in the next three months there must be a return to normalisation in the countryside".

Threats by UNITA

UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi had threatened to withdraw from the peace process if sanctions were applied. Speaking to the Portuguese newspaper, Expresso, Savimbi said "if sanctions are imposed on UNITA, we will abandon the peace protocol".

UN Spokesman, David Wimhurst, on 26 September dismissed the threat, telling Associated Press that "they're trying to exert pressure on the international community. It's a question of who's going to blink".

Security Council lays out terms

Speaking after the Security Council meeting, its current President, US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, said that "council members expect that during this period [until 30 October], UNITA will cooperate with the extension of state administration, including Cuango, Negage, Mavinga, Adulo and Bailundo".

He continued that "council members also expect that UNITA will take concrete steps to demobilise and disarm its remaining troops and cease its hostile propaganda, both inside and outside the country". However, there were no specific indications of what the US and other Security Council members expect of UNITA on these issues by the end of the month.

The crucial issue of the extension of state administration into the rural areas was not highlighted. However, one aspect of this might be being addressed. Officials quoted in a Reuters report claim that the handing over of Cuango should result in a comprehensive deal on the country's diamonds. Many observers see a diamond deal as being crucial to UNITA fully incorporating itself into the peace process.

Background to sanctions

The additional sanctions, agreed on 28 August, were to be imposed following information gathered by the UN Observer Mission in Angola, MONUA, which showed that UNITA was recruiting, remobilising, and regrouping its military forces. There are no indications that this process has been stopped.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, warned the Security Council on 13 August (S/1997/640) that "the landing of over 120 flights between 1 and 30 July at UNITA-controlled airstrips scattered throughout the central and eastern parts of the country, which MONUA were not allowed to verify, are clear indications of extensive military preparations".

These "extensive military preparations" have taken place at the same time as UNITA members have been working in positions granted to them in the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, and in the National Assembly where 70 UNITA deputies sit.

Ready for sanctions

The international community spent the month of August preparing for the imposition of the further sanctions. In some countries, civil servants were preparing the necessary primary legislation.

The British Government made clear its readiness and willingness to impose the sanctions at the conference - Achieving lasting peace in Angola: the unfinished agenda - held jointly by ACTSA, Christian Aid and the Catholic Institute for International Relations on 4 September.

Speaking at the conference, Tony Lloyd MP, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said, "the Security Council does not go through the process of the imposition of sanctions in a light-hearted or frivolous fashion. It is actually quite difficult to get international coherence for that process to come together, and I would like to pay tribute to the role of British diplomats who worked extremely hard with many others to make sure that the resolution went through".

He continued that, "existing sanctions against UNITA have in the past proved hard to enforce and the measures proposed under the present Security Council Resolution are going to need the active co-operation and willingness of all parties in the international community if they are to be made effective. However, if that sanctions regime is in place, the United Kingdom will do everything it can, both by ourselves and within the international community, to make that sanctions regime work".

These preparations reflected international opinion, as endorsed by the UN Secretary-General, who gave a report to the Security Council as late as the 24 September, stating: "I am not yet in a position to advise the Security Council that UNITA has taken the necessary steps to comply with all the obligations set out in paragraphs 2 and 3 of its Resolution 1127 [on 28 August 1997]. Such steps would have to include, in particular, the immediate provision by UNITA to the UN of credible and verifiable information about the strength of the residual armed elements and weapons, and to allow the state administration to be extended to strategically important areas of the country."

He stated that he considered that "the figure of 6,052 claimed by UNITA to be the total of its residual troops remains unconvincing", and that "the quality and quantity of weapons surrendered to MONUA by these residual troops are insignificant". Of the 3,317 weapons handed over, only 56.5 percent were found to be serviceable and in good condition. Only 46,532 pieces of ammunition were handed over.

Kofi Annan continued, "so far, no major artillery pieces or communication equipment have been handed over, except for six 82mm mortars and forty three 40mm rocket launchers, casting further doubt on the credibility of the demilitarisation exercise".

On the extension of state administration he stated that, "there is little doubt that the delay in extension of state administration to major strategic locations such as Andulo, Bailundo, Cuango, Mavinga and Negage is a result of political consideration".

The international consensus on the need for additional sanctions to be taken against UNITA was underlined on 23 September, when the Council of the European Union agreed a common position on implementing the additional measures.

Angolans welcome move - publicly

The Angolan Government has put on a brave face following the decision to suspend the sanctions package. The Angolan Embassy in Washington stated that "the UN, in close consultation with the Troika of observers and with the full support of the Angolan Government, has decided to postpone the application of sanctions until 30 October in response to last minute actions by UNITA to fulfil its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol".

However, privately government officials have expressed anger and resentment at the decision, which they blame on the United States.

Some commentators have pointed to the fact that US diamond dealer Maurice Templesman, of Lazar Kaplan, has been negotiating with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi over a diamond deal to follow a lasting peace. Commentators have suggested that these negotiations are at a sensitive stage, with huge benefits from a positive outcome.

Rumours are currently circulating that a deal has been reached between the Angolan state diamond mining organisation, Endiama, and UNITA. This would involve regularising and legalising UNITA's diamond mining operations. Such an agreement could prove to be a defining point in the peace process, with UNITA outlining its price for accepting peace.

Two senior Government ministers, Faustino Muteka and Higino Carneiro, had visited Dr Savimbi in Andulo on 15 September, returning on 18 September.

According to a report from Reuters on 1 October, an official close to the peace process said of the proposed deal: "This is a very complicated agreement. This is the beginning of a process that is going to take about three months. During that time you will see a lot of UNITA areas revert to the government, but you will also see UNITA diamond areas legitimised".

The second factor which commentators suggest may have contributed to the strong US pressure to delay imposing the sanctions is the US domestic political situation. This argument is that the Clinton administration is vulnerable to pressure from the Republican-led Senate, where Savimbi's old friend, Jesse Helms is the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

However, the US academic, Professor Gerard Bender, views the US Senate circles that used to support Savimbi's cause as having been substantially weakened after 1992, and now without enough power to halt the President from taking tough action against UNITA if necessary.

William Minter, Senior Research Fellow, Africa Policy Information Center, and veteran Angola-watcher, does not see the UN inaction as a result of a change in policy. In an interview with the Angola Peace Monitor, he said that, "the tendency to give UNITA one more chance, regardless of the demonstrated failure to comply with previous commitments, has been a constant thread in US and international response to violations of Angolan peace agreements. The latest decision to postpone sanctions for another month is fully consistent with this tendency. Once again, Savimbi is calling the international community's bluff."

Delay to UNITA's military advantage

Although the delay in the imposition of further sanctions is intended to give UNITA further time to comply with its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol, it could also give UNITA a further month to continue to rearm and reorganise. It is not yet clear whether UNITA has stepped back from the brink of war, or if it is once again playing for time in order to prepare to fight.

The importance of the time factor was raised during the Achieving lasting peace in Angola conference in London.

Peter Simkin, former Director of the UN's Humanitarian Assistance Department in Angola, warned that, "the risks of returning to a general war have greatly increased since FAA launched its recent offensive to remove UNITA from the diamond fields in the Lundas. This has met with stiff opposition from well equipped and trained UNITA forces and any advantages which FAA has could be reduced if the offensive is not successfully completed before the onset of the rains in November".

However, there have also been warnings of possible drought in the Southern African region this year as a result of the El Nino weather system.

Conference focuses on lasting peace

A major conference - Achieving lasting peace in Angola: the unfinished agenda, held in London on 4 September, heard from Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Tony Lloyd MP; Angolan Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Chikoti; and other experts on Angola.

The summation was carried out by Dame Margaret Anstee, who was the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Angola in the period covering the 1992 elections.

The conference, convened by ACTSA - Action for Southern Africa, Christian Aid and the Catholic Institute for International Relations, will be bringing out a full report shortly. This will be available from ACTSA (at the address below) for 3.50 pounds sterling.

Extension of state administration vital for economy

The conference heard Angolan economist Manuel Nunes stress the importance of the extension of state administration to the whole country for the rehabilitation of the economy.

He pointed out that up to two-thirds of the country is occupied by UNITA, resulting in no freedom of movement of people and goods. Up to 80 percent of the population of Angola live in Government-held areas.

Nunes pointed out that the Angolan economy was in profound crisis, and that the trade in goods and services was virtually non-existent.

Other speakers at the conference noted that the military instability and the curse of landmines had prevented many people returning to farm the land. Angola had previously been an exporter of food, but was now heavily reliant on humanitarian aid.

In the present context, unless the extension of state administration is spread from towns such as Negage, to the rural areas, the economy will not recover.

UNITA deserters warn of threat to peace

Two senior figures in the rebel UNITA movement have fled to government-controlled areas, and have given interviews underlining further the divisions between the Luanda-based UNITA participating in the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation and Savimbi's camp.

Eugenio Manavakola, former UNITA Secretary-General, who signed the Lusaka Protocol on behalf of UNITA, explained on 29 August to a press conference that from 14 February 1995 until 28 August 1997 he was under arrest. He fled from house arrest along with fourteen of his relatives.

The former Secretary-General was elected as a member of the National Assembly on the UNITA ticket. However, whilst under house-arrest, his seat was taken by a UNITA nominee.

Asked about UNITA's plans to restart the war, he replied: "I am a passive UNITA leader. I have not been active for almost three years. I come from jail. In Andulo and Bailundo I managed to gather military information that leads me to believe that in fact there is a faction that is dealing with military readiness, in men and materiel, also landing strips".

In the interview, he denied that he had deserted UNITA. He said that, "I have at this moment profound differences with Dr Savimbi. That is the reason why I say I did not desert UNITA, but I have differences with UNITA". He continued that "nobody can be blamed for my situation but Dr Savimbi".

Defector warns of mercenaries

Another senior UNITA member who fled UNITA, Major Miguel Florentino Sawimbo, went on Angolan TV on 30 August, warning that UNITA is receiving large quantities of war materiel.

Major Sawimbo also warned that there are South African and Moroccan mercenaries working with UNITA, based in Andulo and Mussende.

Aid to Angola

The European Union announced on 8 September that it is to give 2.07 million ECU to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to assist in landmine clearance.

In August the Swedish Government pledged $600,000 to the International Organisation of Migration's demobilisation operation in Angola. Subsequently, Portugal pledged a further $500,000.

Clare Short MP, Secretary of State for International Development announced on 2 October that the British Government is to double its spending over the next three years on demining efforts worldwide. At present it is spending 5 million pounds sterling a year.

US military training for FAA

The Chief of Staff of the Angolan army, FAA, announced on 26 September that the United States is to provide $200,000 for training.

The announcement follows a meeting with a visiting US military delegation.


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, UK; e-mail actsa@geo2.poptel.org.uk, 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: http://www.anc.org.za/angola


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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