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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, IV, 2

Angola: Peace Monitor, IV, 2
Date distributed (ymd): 971108
Document reposted by APIC

Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no.2, Vol. IV 3rd November 1997

International goodwill runs out for UNITA - sanctions imposed

The United Nations on 29 October unanimously agreed to impose further sanctions on the Angolan rebel movement, UNITA, following its refusal to abide by its obligations under the Angolan peace agreement, the Lusaka Protocol.

The sanctions, which came into effect on 30 October, mean that UNITA will now face, inter alia, an international ban on travel for its officials, the closing of its offices abroad, and the banning of flights into UNITA-held areas unless sanctioned by the Angolan Government. These sanctions add to the present mandatory sanctions, imposed in 1993, against providing UNITA with either petroleum products or armaments.

The Security Council also reaffirmed its readiness to consider the imposition of additional measures, such as trade and financial restrictions, if UNITA does not fully comply with its obligations.

In particular, UNITA still needs to disarm and demobilise its guerrilla army. It continues to have military control over more than half of the country, and it must hand this over to the state. The rebel movement is also required to stop its illegal broadcasts over Radio Vorgan, which have been highly hostile towards the peace process.

UNITA miss their chance

The imposition of sanctions follows UNITA's inability or disinclination to make last minute concessions in the run up to the Security Council meeting. On 17 October the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, reported to the Security Council (S/1997/807) that there had been "no significant progress in the peace process" since the end of September.

Kofi Annan stated that he remained "concerned in particular by the very slow pace of the demilitarisation of UNITA" and equally "the recent slowdown of the extension of state administration into the areas controlled by UNITA is worrisome".

Hopes were raised in some quarters following the visit to Andulo of the US ambassador at the UN, Bill Richardson, on 26 October. Whilst there Richardson met with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, who told him "of actions he would take by the end of the month to avoid sanctions".

In particular, Savimbi promised to surrender a substantial number of weapons, hand over 89 areas under UNITA control, and demobilise the 6,582 troops he admits to maintaining. Notably absent from Savimbi's promises was the handover of the two key UNITA strongholds of Andulo and Bailundo.

Unconvincing progress

By the end of the month UNITA had made the following progress:

Demobilising UNITA troops

Serious concern is being raised that the key element of the Lusaka Protocol, the demobilisation process, has been a failure. The most significant sign of UNITA's lack of commitment to peace is its continuing denial of the fact that it maintains a strong and highly armed guerrilla force.

Following a Government army offensive in May (APM no.10, vol III), both UNITA and the United Nations were forced to admit that UNITA had kept its guerilla force. Up until then, UNITA had solemnly sworn that it had fully demobilised its troops.

The acceptance of this reality has led the UN to take action against UNITA. The Force Commander of the UN Observer Mission in Angola, MONUA, Major General P V Sibanda, wrote in August a damning report outlining UNITA's war preparations. These involved, inter alia, the recruitment, training, and regrouping of UNITA forces (APM no.12, vol III).

The report stated that the above "casts doubt on UNITA's commitment to peace. These actions by UNITA should be denounced in the strongest terms as UNITA cannot expect to participate in the structures of the Government of Unity and National Reconstruction, yet at the same time run a private army on the side and continue to control large areas of the country".

UNITA regroups

According to figures published by the UN, by 7 December 1996 69,821 UNITA troops were quartered for the disarmament and demobilisation process (APM no.4, vol III). Many of these were non-soldiers press ganged into the camps by UNITA (APM ad passim).

However, only 33,967 troops have been demobilised. Of these, concern has mounted that many have also rejoined their military units. A study carried out by the UN Observer Mission in Angola, has detailed "systematic and unjustified changes by UNITA in the destination of its demobilised troops [UN Secretary General's report S/1997/807]".

Under plans set out for the demobilisation of UNITA troops, the quartered troops were each to be given transport to their own, self-defined, home. However, the Secretary General reported that "MONUA has investigated these changes [of location] with regard to those demobilised from the Catala and Chitembo centres. The outcome of the investigation showed that some 279 troops who had initially chosen to settle in 175 different locations throughout the country were, eventually, settled in only six locations in and around Catala, an area in Malange Province. Some 1,291 troops from Chitembo, who had chosen to settle in 302 different locations throughout the country, finally settled in only six locations, all in the area between Chitembo and Kuito in Bie Province".

It is clear from this study that UNITA has regrouped its armed forces following the demobilisation process. The huge difference between the numbers quartered and demobilised is a result of widespread and systematic desertion from the camps. Over 30,000 UNITA soldiers deserted, many of whom have simply rejoined their military units.

UNITA admission "unsatisfactory"

Following complaints from the international community that UNITA had not truly demobilised, UNITA admitted to the existence of 6,052 armed personnel. This number was subsequently increased to 6,582, but still considered by the UN Secretary General to be "generally regarded as unsatisfactory". These troops are to be registered, before being formally demobilised. However, ACTSA has learnt that there are to be no additional safeguards to stop these troops rejoining their units once demobilised.

The exact number of UNITA troops still under arms is a matter of speculation. Whilst the Angolan Government is maintaining that UNITA has some 35,000 troops, the UN is working on the basis of a smaller, but still significant, number.

According to the London-based Financial Times on 29 July, a senior UN official admitted that "we suspect that most of the 20,000 UNITA soldiers whom we have demobilised have actually remained under some sort of UNITA command". To this one must add those who deserted, or were never quartered. On top of this total, there is the existence of UNITA troops outside of Angola. It has been reported that 5,000 UNITA soldiers fought alongside ex-president Mobutu's troops in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), prior to the victory of Laurent Kabila's forces (APM no.9, vol III). It is not known whether those routed forces all managed to retreat into Angola.

Similarly, the UNITA troops defeated during their defence of ex-president Pascal Lissouba, in the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), are still at large in that war-torn country (see separate story below).

This was confirmed by Peter Burleigh, representing the United States, at the UN Security Council debate on Angola on 29 October, when he demanded that "mercenaries and other armed groups, including UNITA, withdraw immediately" from Congo-Brazzaville. The London-based journal, Africa Confidential on 24 October put the number of UNITA troops in Congo-Brazzaville at about 2,000.

Meanwhile, the Joint Commission, the body overseeing the Angolan peace process, agreed on 6 October to close down the three remaining (out of 15) assembly camps, where UNITA was to place its troops, by the end of October.


Progress has recently been made by the United Nations in collecting some of UNITA's huge arsenal.

The Secretary General, in his report of 17 October, stated that 5,454 weapons of various calibres and 1.8 million different types of ammunition had been handed in by the 5,148 UNITA troops registering for demobilisation recently. On top of this, a large quantity of weapons and ammunition were handed over separately at Mucusso in Cuando Cubango Province. Of these, 59.86 per cent were in good condition.

The Secretary General reported that although some additional military pieces had been surrendered, "communication equipment is still conspicuously absent". He also stated that only two unserviceable Kaspir armoured vehicles were handed over. In this connection, it should be noted that UNITA has made much use of motorised military units in armed confrontation with the Angolan army over the years.

Kofi Annan also lamented that the quantity of 7.62-calibre ammunition (for AK-47 rifles) amounted to only 66 rounds per weapon, "which MONUA considers to be too low". Since the Secretary General's report on 17 October, UNITA has handed over a significant amount of weaponry. On 24 October, the MONUA Team Site at Mucusso, Cuando Cubango Province, received from UNITA the following: * 54,919,529 rounds of ammunition * 2,659 bombs * 14,851 anti-tank cartridges * 73,104 rounds of 75mm anti-tank munition and training cartridges * 4,174 smoke grenades * 47 81mm grenades * 13,710 Very pistol cartridges * 75 grenade launchers * 25 80mm mortars * 26 2PG.2 machine guns. In total, 1,800 tonnes of weapons were handed in.

Concurrently, the Angolan police have been disarming UNITA personnel in areas returned to state control. On 21 October, the Angolan police seized 42 AKM rifles and communications equipment from UNITA, and in the process detained 17 UNITA soldiers, including a major, and two lieutenants. On top of this, the Angolan police on 24 October seized the following weapons from UNITA in Bungo district in Uige Province: * 4 FN rifles * 2 Czech made weapons * 3 grenades for 60mm and 81mm mortars * 141 missiles * 2 landmine detonators * 3 anti-personnel landmines * 3 rocket launchers * 27 RPG-7 rocket launchers

It is clear from published information that UNITA maintains a well-armed force. It has kept its communications equipment, offensive and logistical vehicles, heavy weaponry and anti-aircraft capacity.

There is also concern that UNITA continues to break the arms embargo imposed in 1993. One Security Council envoy, quoted by Reuters on 29 October, said that "they still travel abroad seeking arms and trying to present their case for military support. They still obtain weapons through flights". It is in this context that sanctions against UNITA personnel travelling abroad, and flights into UNITA areas were imposed.

Handing over UNITA-occupied areas to the state

There has been slow progress in handing over UNITA -occupied areas to state administration. The UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, said on 23 October that only one area was being returned to government administration on a daily basis, instead of the agreed three.

On 18 August, the Central Intersectoral Operational Group, the joint Government/UNITA body established to oversee the extension of state administration, agreed a plan to extend state administration to 149 localities by the end of October. However, by 15 October, only 118 locations had been dealt with.

There is no news about the 89 localities which Savimbi promised would be handed over by the end of October. None of these are particularly important areas. The UN Secretary General informed the Security Council that Savimbi had announced that two of the key occupied territories, Andulo and Bailundo, would not be handed over until after his return to Luanda.

Overall, the UN Secretary General reported to the Security Council that "the delays in the implementation of the plan for the extension of state administration have been due not only to logistical obstacles but also political ones. While UNITA has been by and large cooperative in the installation of central administration, that cooperation has not been forthcoming after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1130 (1997) [the resolution agreed in September delaying the imposition of sanctions until the end of October].

Radio Vorgan

The Angolan Government has licensed Radio Despertar, and made a FM frequency available for it. This is to replace Radio Vorgan, which broadcasts on short-wave. Meanwhile, Kofi Annan reported (S/1997/807) that Radio Vorgan had "significantly reduced the broadcast of hostile propaganda and, in many instances, its editorial comments have been supportive of the peace process efforts".

United Nations extends peacekeeping mission

The UN Security Council has decided to extend the MONUA mandate until 30 January 1988, and to postpone the withdrawal of UN military units until the end of November 1997.

The Secretary General's view, endorsed by the Security Council, is that there should be "the repatriation of a number of military personnel by the end of November 1997, with a gradual drawdown of the troops between December 1997 and the first week of February 1998".

UNITA lose final rear-base

There has been widespread international criticism over the toppling of elected president Pascal Lissouba in Congo-Brazzaville, which involved the Angolan army.

Following a dramatic and decisive intervention by the Angolan army in the civil war in Congo-Brazzaville, President Pascal Lissouba lost power to the former president, Denis Sassou-Nguesso on 15 October. The four month civil war, which left an estimated 10,000 dead, started on 5 June with the attack by Lissouba's forces on Sassou's house, although the roots of the conflict are deep and fed by the existence of private militias. Following this attack Presidential elections, due to take place at the end of July, were indefinitely postponed.

Africa Confidential reported on 24 October that Lissouba was supported by "several thousand men from Mobutu's Division Speciale Presidentielle and Savimbi's UNITA, who in April had fought Kabila's forces at Kengue, some 300 km from Kinshasa, later taking refuge at Loudima and Moussendjo in Pool, the heart of Lissouba-land".

The first accusation of Angolan involvement came on 11 October. On 14 October an estimated 3,000 Angolan soldiers entered Congo-Brazzaville over the border from Cabinda, the Angolan enclave. By 15 October Lissouba had fled and Sassou's forces were consolidating power.

Angola's intervention was a result of Lissouba's failure to stop UNITA and the Cabindan separatist movements using Congo-Brazzaville as a rear base for attacks on Angola. The Electronic Mail and Guardian reported on 17 October that "UNITA's last real supply line was through Congo-Brazzaville. At one point Congo-Brazzaville was exporting more diamonds than it has in the ground - most of them believed to be Angolan and produced by UNITA".

International criticism

Several sources have gone on record to condemn the military defeat of Lissouba.

The South African government's Foreign Affairs Department spokesperson, Marco Boni said on 21 October that Pretoria was not in a position to "simply recognise" a military leader who had come to power by overthrowing a democratically-elected government.

Even though Congo-Brazzaville is not a member of the Southern African Development Community, its Executive Secretary, Kaire Mbuende, said on 23 October that "it is a deplorable situation that we had a change of government in this way". However, he noted that the de facto president Sassou-Nguesso had talked of putting together a government of national unity.

Both the United States and Britain have called for Angolan forces to be withdrawn immediately. However, the French government has taken a more positive line. Minister Charles Josselin, stated that "it's Sassou-Nguesso who is the master of Brazzaville and ... we consider that today the man with whom one must discuss putting in place a new democratic process is Denis Sassou-Nguesso".

Angola hosts regional summit

Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos on 27 October hosted a summit with Presidents Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville, Laurent Kabila of Congo-Kinshasa, and Omar Bongo of Gabon.

The summit was called to improve relations between the presidents. President Bongo had been a strong supporter of the ousted Pascal Lissouba, and of Jonas Savimbi. There have also been reports of tense relations between the new presidents of the two Congos. In the summit's final communique, the leaders agreed "not to allow the use of their territories by groups of armed factions for politically and militarily destabilising the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each of their states".

British Government acts against UNITA

The British Government has taken immediate steps to comply with the recently imposed sanctions against UNITA.

The necessary provisions to bring the UN sanctions into UK legislation were signed by the Privy Council on 30 October, and laid before Parliament on 31 October. A Common Position has been agreed and signed at the European Union. The intention of the Foreign Office is to stop the functioning of the UNITA Office in London. Sources in the Foreign Office state that the most effective way of doing this is to expel the UNITA representative, Anibal Kandeya, from the country, and it is expected that the Home Office will be contacting Kandeya as the Angola Peace Monitor goes to press.

However, the actual closing of the UNITA office remains a difficult task, as the office has changed its name to an import-export company. Similarly, the UNITA office in Washington is now named the Centre for Democracy in Angola, and has been quoted in the London-based journal Southscan as such.

The AFP news agency reported on 30 October that France has announced that it is to close UNITA's office in Paris. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jacques Rummelhardt said France believed UNITA "understands the strong message from the international community and will face its obligations".

The lengthy delay in imposing sanctions has made the process of controlling UNITA activities abroad much harder, and may have given UNITA breathing space to tie up arms contracts internationally.

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.

A subscription to Volume IV of the Angola Peace Monitor is available at a cost of 10 pounds sterling in Britain and 15 pounds sterling elsewhere. Please indicate whether you wish to receive the Angola Peace Monitor by post or e-mail. Payment should be made in pounds sterling. If you wish to pay in any other currency, you must add the equivalent of 6 to cover our bank charges.

ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, e-mail, 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 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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