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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, 3

Angola: Peace Monitor, IV, 3
Date Distributed (ymd): 971204
Document reposted by APIC

Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign Issue
no.3, Vol. IV 27th November 1997

International community fails to close UNITA offices

An international commitment to isolate the Angolan rebel movement, UNITA, has so far failed to be matched by concrete action. A plan to close down UNITA's twelve offices outside Angola and to restrict the movement of senior UNITA personnel was agreed by the United Nations at the end of October. However, by the end of November only one member state of the United Nations Security Council, France, had succeeded in fully closing down a UNITA office.

On 29 October the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1135. This stated that all UNITA offices abroad are to be closed, and senior UNITA officials should have their travel documents, visas or residence permits cancelled. However, the member states have had problems carrying out their obligations in this regard. In some countries, the government is struggling to find a way to carry out its obligations. In others, domestic political pressures are delaying action.

In the United States, the UNITA office in Washington has for the last few months been operating under the name the Centre for Democracy in Angola Incorporated, and is headed by an American, Malik Chaka. UNITA also has an office in New York. While the US administration signalled its willingness to close the two UNITA offices, it has so far failed to do so.

In Portugal, the UNITA office has recently been renamed the Centre for Democracy in Angola, and may be run by people with Portuguese passports. The deputy head of UNITA in Portugal, Rui Oliveira, told APS on 10 November that UNITA had been contacted by Jose Lamego, Portugal's junior foreign minister. He informed UNITA on 30 October that the government wanted to shut down the delegation. However, according to Africa Analysis (14 November) the government has since backed down due to domestic political considerations. Africa Analysis also stated that Germany does not intend to close the UNITA office "because it has no official status".

In Belgium, UNITA has informed the government that it has closed its office. However, an Angolan cultural office has been opened, which is headed by the ex-UNITA representative, who holds a diplomatic passport from the Ivory Coast.

In the United Kingdom, the British Government has stated it has taken active steps to remove the UNITA representative Mr Kandeya from the country. It has decided not to renew his visa, which ran out on 10 November. He is expected to leave the country in the first week of December. However, it has not found a mechanism for closing the UNITA office, which operates under the cover of an import-export company, with British staff. It hopes that the expulsion of the UNITA representative will, de facto, close the office.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been keen to implement the UN sanctions against UNITA, and has passed on relevant information to the Home Office and the Department of Trade and Industry.

The one Security Council member which, at the time the Angola Peace Monitor went to press, had managed to implement the sanctions that it voted for is France. It was announced on 25 November that the French Government had ordered the closure of the UNITA office. According to foreign ministry spokesperson, Yves Doutriaux, the office, which operated under the title, Demain l'Angola, has now "ended its political activities in France".

The member states are to report to the Sanctions Committee of the UN before the 1 December on progress towards implementing sanctions, and to the Security Council by 15 December.

The UN Secretary General is to report to the Security Council by 8 December on progress made by UNITA in complying with the Lusaka Protocol.

The Security Council also stated in its resolution "its readiness to consider the imposition of additional measures, such as trade and financial restrictions, if UNITA does not fully comply with its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol and all relevant Security Council resolutions". This batch of sanctions would probably include the freezing of UNITA's bank accounts. However, observers point out that neither the present mandatory sanctions on UNITA buying armaments and oil (in place since September 1993), nor the attempts to close UNITA's offices, have proved to be effective, except for stressing the international isolation of UNITA.

Peace process halted

The Angolan peace process has effectively stalled following UNITA's failure to comply with the Lusaka Protocol, the agreement underpinning the process. Sources in Angola describe an "alarming calm" in the country, with no substantial hand-over of UNITA-controlled areas to the government, and no further hand-over of UNITA weapons to the United Nations.

The Lusaka Protocol, signed on 20 November 1994, sets out the duties of the Angolan government and the rebel-movement, UNITA. However, UNITA have failed to demobilise their army and hand over their weapons. This has led the United Nations to impose further international sanctions against the rebels (see APM no.2 vol. IV).

According to reliable sources, the six thousand UNITA troops which in October had turned up at UN camps for registration and demobilisation, demanded their weapons back and left the camps following the imposition of UN sanctions on UNITA at the end of October.

They have now rejoined their comrades-in-arms, making up a military force estimated to be between 15,000 and 35,000 strong.

UNITA ministers loyal to government

Despite the present stalling of the peace process, there are encouraging signs that a section of the UNITA leadership are committed to peace.

There is growing admiration for UNITA's four ministers and seven deputy ministers appointed to the Government of Unity and National Reconstruction (GURN) by President dos Santos, in accordance with the Lusaka Protocol.

Diplomatic sources have expressed surprise and delight at the hard work and seriousness of the UNITA appointees. However, this appreciation of their work is not shared by all. The UNITA mouthpiece in the United States, the Centre for Democracy in Angola Incorporated, on 23 October described their role as being "purely ceremonial".

There is a growing gulf between those UNITA representatives who have moved to Luanda to participate in the GURN and the National Assembly, and those who have remained with Jonas Savimbi. At present, Jonas Savimbi is keeping both the military and political option open. However, one UNITA minister has privately conceded that if there was a return to war, he would remain with the government.

A further sign of the division was shown when the Political Commission of UNITA met in Andulo in early November. According to the Washington Post on 11 November, members of the Political Commission who are in Luanda did not attend. The article quotes the minister for commerce and tourism, Jorge Valentim, as saying that, "I cannot put the party above the government". According to an APM source, one senior Luanda-based UNITA member stated, off-the-record, that his life would be in danger if he went to Andulo.

A diplomat, quoted by the Washington Post, stated that the decision by the Luandan members of the Political Commission not to attend "was the first time they made it clear they weren't going to follow Bailundo. I think it was a quiet rebellion".

Military tensions on rise

There has been mounting military tension around the country, with allegations on both sides of aggressive military actions. David Wimhurst, the spokesperson for the UN Observer Mission in Angola, MONUA, warned that cease-fire violations in October had risen to 30.

According to a report by Associated Press on 5 November, the UN suspects UNITA involvement in three ambushes during October, and new anti-tank minefields have been laid in Malanje province.

The Angolan army has made fresh allegations that UNITA is preparing to relaunch military conflict. UNITA have counter-charged that the government has been preparing for a military assault in the north of the country.

The commander of the Angolan army's southern front, General Francisco Furtado, stated on 13 November that UNITA had moved hidden long-range artillery and other weapons to new command posts. He also asserted that it was building up military bases in the regions on Benguela and Huila in the South, Bie and Huambo in the centre and Cuando-Cubango in the south west. This was in part confirmed by the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UCAH) who warned on 7 November of an increasing number of security incidents in Benguela province.

The Angolan government also charged that UNITA have shelled several villages in Huila province, forcing hundreds of villagers to flee their homes.

In response to armed actions by UNITA, on 11 November, 22 UNITA soldiers were arrested and charged with attacking a police unit at Kangandala, in northern Angola.

A further deserter from UNITA's military wing has further strengthened the Angolan army's allegations.

According to the Angolan News Agency, ANGOP, a former UNITA officer, stationed in Bailundo, turned himself over to the authorities in Bie province. Alceres Domingos Andre, who was demobilised in Vila Nova on 12 May, stated that he was subsequently taken to a base in Monte Belo, 12 km from Bailundo. He said that 700 demobilised soldiers were being trained there for a return to war.

Relations between the Government and UNITA were reported to be deteriorating in Uige province. On 1 November it was reported by state radio that UNITA had unilaterally suspended all its activities with the reinstatement of government administration in Uige province.

In a further development, it was reported on 6 November that UNITA members were abandoning Quitexe, Songo and Mucaba in Uige as well as Quisseque commune in Negage.

UN peacekeeper assaulted by UNITA

The UN temporarily suspended operations in Jamba following an assault on a Zambian peacekeeper and a Portuguese relief worker by a UNITA gang on 12 November.

Lieutenant Warren Chanda was hospitalised following the incident in Jamba. Suzanna dos Passos, a civil education officer with UCAH, was also injured. Reuters reported on 12 November that a UNITA official in Luanda confirmed the incident and that it was carried out by UNITA members.

Following the assaults, the UN announced that it was halting the demobilisation of UNITA troops.

UNITA soldiers die in detention

There has been widespread shock at the death in detention of at least ten UNITA soldiers in a jail in Malanje. Initial reports indicate that the UNITA prisoners died of suffocation due to overcrowding in cells.

The Angolan government has sent a minister to Malanje to investigate the incident, and has promised to punish those found responsible.

Meeting between leaders delayed

The planned meeting between President Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, has been postponed following an injury to the Angolan president.

The meeting, which was due to take place at the end of November, has been delayed. This follows the President's trip to Brazil for an operation to his Achilles' tendon. It is expected that after his return in early December a new date will be fixed.

The President has been firmly of the opinion that the meeting should take place in the Angolan capital, Luanda. However, UNITA have so far cited "security" worries to avoid a meeting in Angola.

Angolan government criticised over Congo-Brazzaville

The Angolan government has come under further criticism over its intervention in neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville, which routed UNITA guerrillas and Cabindan separatist forces, and brought to an end the bitter civil war in the west African state.

The US House of Representatives on 18 November passed Resolution 273 which "condemns the military intervention by the Government of Angola into the Republic of Congo", and called on the Angolans to "immediately withdraw all military troops, supplies and other assistance from the Republic of Congo". The resolution also urges the US administration to withhold "any military training and assistance to Angola until it ceases all military activity in the Republic of Congo".

Togo under pressure to distance itself from UNITA

The London-based journal, SouthScan (21 November), has reported that Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, is being put under pressure to abandon his old friend, Jonas Savimbi.

A SouthScan source has stated that Lome has been used as a conduit for UNITA's illegally mined diamonds. This follows an article in the Paris-based journal, Lettre du Continent, which speculated that Angola was the main topic during talks between President Eyadema and South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki in January.

Zambia coup allegations discounted

There have been unsubstantiated allegations that the Angolan government was involved in October's failed coup attempt against President Chiluba in neighbouring Zambia, in the wake of the Angolan intervention in the two Congos.

However, analysts point out that unlike the successful revolts in the Congos, the coup attempt in Zambia was poorly carried out, and there was no suggestion of Angolan troops being involved.

The speculation has, however, focused attention on recognition that the Angolan government is increasingly confident in its ability to defend its territorial integrity and national security. The Washington Post on 8 November, stated that "Angola apparently did not intervene in Zambia, but it successfully impressed upon its eastern neighbour the need to control its borders".

Historically, Zambia has been used as a supply route by UNITA. There have also been recent allegations of sanctions busting through Zambia. In July this year, a South African researcher at the Institute for Security Studies alleged that it was likely that UNITA had imported arms through Zambia.

The Angolan Interior Minister, Andre Pitra "Petroff" on 12 November, complained that aircraft from Zambia had violated Angolan airspace. He said that "we will inform the Zambian authorities of our concerns".

New plane designed to detect mines

A company in Luxembourg has designed an aircraft with six sensors to gather data on minefields. The airplane will fly at a height of around 400 meters to detect landmines over 15 cm and up to 50 cm deep. It is hoped that the aircraft can be used to speed up demining operations in Angola.

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 the 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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