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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, 6

Angola: Peace Monitor, IV, 6
Date Distributed (ymd): 980301
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:
This issue of the Angola Peace Monitor notes the failure of UNITA to comply with the "final" deadline for completion of the peace process, and the consequent danger of renewed conflict.

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

Issue no. 6, Vol IV 26th February 1998

"Final" timetable collapses

The "final" timetable for the completion of the peace process in Angola has collapsed, with UNITA failing to comply with any of the nine point plan agreed in January, while the United Nations has continued to reduce its military capacity.

The Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, is due to present a report to the UN Security Council by 13 March, where he will outline the future of the UN presence in Angola. Based on previous experience, it is expected that UNITA will speed up its compliance with its obligations just prior to this report. However, commentators concede that military pressure from the Angolan army has in practice been the key motivator in reducing UNITA's capacity to relaunch the war.

The "deadline" for the completion of the whole peace process agreed in Lusaka in 1994 has been confirmed by the Joint Commission (see footnote 1) and the Troika of observer nations (Russia, Portugal and the United States) as 28 February, yet none of the nine stages leading up to the deadline has been met.

International pressure has been put on UNITA to force it to comply with the timetable, but to no avail. UNITA's leader, Jonas Savimbi, has received high level delegations from the United Nations and the United States, in the hope that he could be persuaded to give up his twin-track strategy of stalling and rearming. The Deputy UN Special Representative in Angola, Behrooz Sadry, visited Savimbi in Bailundo on 3 February. The UNITA leader then received on 18 February the US deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Nancy Soderberg, who also confirmed the end of February as the deadline for concluding the Lusaka Protocol (see footnote 2).

On 19 February the President of the UN Security Council, Ambassador Denis Dangue Rewaka of Gabon, reiterated the importance of adhering to the deadline of 28 February. The statement urged the two parties "particularly UNITA" to make every effort to ensure the completion of the peace process. The timetable, agreed on 9 January (see APM no.5 vol IV), required that the demobilisation of "residual" UNITA forces be completed by the end of January, and that UNITA declare itself demilitarised. The extension of state administration was to have been completed by 27 January, with the two UNITA strongholds of Andulo and Bailundo being handed over by 28 February.

UNITA demobilisation and demilitarisation

UNITA's chief delegate to the Joint Commission, Isaias Samakuva, stated on 5 February that UNITA would issue a declaration of total demilitarisation once demobilisation is over.

However, the demobilisation process has been greatly delayed. A spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping mission stated on 18 February that out of 7,877 "residual" UNITA soldiers registered for demobilisation, 3,000 were awaiting processing. The spokesperson hoped that the demobilisation process could be completed by 26 February.

Whilst commentators agree that UNITA is not solely responsible for the delays in demobilisation, it is clear that UNITA maintains a large, heavily armed military force. The 7,877 "residual" troops UNITA has registered represent a minority of UNITA soldiers, who were recently registered following intense international pressure on the rebel movement.

Military analysts in Angola put the figure of UNITA troops at large in the country at between 15,000 and 25,000. Other commentators, such as Alex Belida of Voice of America, put the figure as high as 40,000. In his report of 18 February, he states that UNITA has begun training troops at a new camp called Kahungula located just inside the former Zaire. Belida's sources put the number of UNITA troops in this training camp at about 5,000. The report states that the troops are being trained by "both Chinese and Moroccan advisers". This camp is close to the Cuango Valley, which UNITA until recently occupied with crack troops (see APM no.5 vol.IV).

Voice of America has also reported that UNITA has a base in Zambia and that the town of Zambezi was being developed as a major supply base for UNITA. These claims have been sharply denied by Zambia's Foreign Minister, Kelly Walubita. The reports have also been condemned by the UNITA office in the United States, which accuses Belida of disinformation.

It is also clear through information gathered by weapons experts that UNITA has not handed over its most sophisticated and powerful weapons.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies in its 1996/97 "Military Balance" report lists weapons known to be held by UNITA. Included are tanks, large calibre field guns (with barrels the length of a London bus), and US-made Stinger and Soviet-made SAM-7 missiles. Monitoring of press reports by the Angola Peace Monitor can confirm that no substantial amount of heavy weaponry has been handed over to the UN. The vast majority of weapons handed in were either old AK-47 assault rifles or, paradoxically, brand new boxed AK-47s. These weapons and their ammunition are easily and cheaply bought on the international arms market. Other weapons have been handed over - the last substantial amount, including mortars and anti-tank ammunition, being on 24 October 1997.

The most significant decommissioning of UNITA weaponry occurred following the Angolan armed forces (FAA) intervention in Congo-Brazzaville in October 1997. According to a senior military source in FAA, a huge UNITA weapons stockpile was found in Pointe Noire.

UNITA leader's security detachment

UNITA has used disagreements with the government over the size of Jonas Savimbi's bodyguard force to delay a meeting between himself and the Angolan President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Under the nine-point timetable, the Angolan Government and UNITA were obliged to agree on the size of this security detachment by 21 January. The Lusaka Protocols states that Savimbi is entitled to 150 bodyguards, a number which was to be reduced to 15 by the time the Lusaka agreement was concluded.

Following lengthy discussions between the government and UNITA, an agreement has been reached that the UNITA leader is to keep 400 guards, to be distributed among Savimbi's many residencies. However, there has been disagreement over the length of time allowed to reduce the number. The government wanted the number reduced to 150 within six months, but increased this period to nine months. UNITA had been holding out for a reduction over two years. Another sticking point is over the distribution of the bodyguards. The government has put a ceiling of 50 on the number of guards allowed in Luanda, whilst UNITA claims that this is inflexible in the current climate.

Extension of state administration continues

Some progress has been made in handing over UNITA-controlled areas to the government. By 20 February UNITA had handed back 272 out of 344 areas to government control - an increase of 33 since 8 January when UNITA had returned 239 localities.

Several strategically important areas remained under UNITA occupation, including Mussende in Kwanza Sul, Milando in Lunda Norte province, Quirima and Sautar in Malanje province.

Areas under government control have also come under attack from UNITA fighters. Heavy fighting has been reported around the commune in Catata, in the central province of Huambo. The UNITA attack happened over two days, ending on 15 February when the attack was finally repulsed. UNITA has admitted that its troops were involved, led by Captain N'Gola. UNITA forces also attacked Lumbala Nguimbo in Moxico province in February. The incident was resolved following a visit to the area by officials from the government, UN and UNITA.

There have also been reports that UNITA is considering moving its main base back to the southern town of Jamba. Jamba was used as the UNITA showpiece during the years it was supported by the apartheid regime in South Africa. The town was created near the border with the then occupied Namibia, and foreign journalists and friends of UNITA were flown in to witness UNITA-run schools and hospitals. Yet when UNITA was forced to move its headquarters, the population of Jamba, who had effectively been prisoners of UNITA, fled to either Namibia or government-controlled areas.

Delays block legalisation

The Angolan government has blamed the delays in UNITA completing its remaining tasks to explain why it in turn has not carried out its tasks. Under the "final" timetable, the government should have completed the total legalisation of UNITA, and confirmed the appointment of Governors, Vice-Governors and Ambassadors named by UNITA. These tasks are to be carried out once UNITA has declared itself a demilitarised organisation.

Presidential meeting sought

Heavy pressure from the United States and the United Nations has been placed upon both the Angolan government and UNITA to organise the long-awaited meeting between President dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi in Luanda.

Jonas Savimbi has used several pretexts to avoid such a meeting. He has publicly expressed a fear of assassination, and has linked this to the need for a large contingent of bodyguards to protect him at any meeting. The UNITA leadership has also claimed that President dos Santos is too unwell to travel to meet Savimbi elsewhere in Angola, although the Angolan government has never suggested that this was an option.

Rumours have been circulating on the health of the President. Angola radio reported that he postponed a visit to Japan, scheduled for the second half of February, because of poor health. Other reports, such as in the Angolan magazine Folha-8, claim that the President is considering stepping down because of his health problems. These allegations have been strongly denied by the President's office.

During February the President has carried out official engagements, including meetings with European Union Commissioner Joao de Deus Pinheiro, and US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Nancy Soderberg.

The Angolan government has agreed to support a meeting between the two leaders in Luanda, but has stressed that the completion of UNITA's obligations is a separate issue which should be met prior to the UNITA leadership's return to Luanda, timetabled for the end of February.

United Nations blacklists 80 UNITA officials

The UN Security Council's Sanctions Committee, set up to oversee the implementation of mandatory international sanctions against UNITA, on 23 February published a list of 80 senior UNITA officials and their families, who are to be refused entry or transit through member states.

Included in the list of UNITA officials are the UNITA representatives to Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. One notable exemption from this list is Joao Vahekeni, who the London-based journal Africa Analysis states has been appointed Head of External Missions. Vahekeni is currently the UNITA representative in Switzerland, which is not a member of the United Nations.

In another twist in the fate of UNITA offices abroad, rumours are circulating that $40 million earmarked for UNITA offices in Europe and arms purchases has been stolen from UNITA by a Russian air crew which had won the confidence of Jonas Savimbi.

More action against illegal flights

The Angolan government on 5 February seized a Ukrainian Antonov 26 and its crew, along with two South African passengers at Luanda airport. Reports allege that the airplane was chartered by the South African company, SG Corporation. The aircraft is said to be on a UN list of planes which have violated UN sanctions.

In another move to stop the flow of illegal flights to UNITA, South African President Nelson Mandela announced on 14 February that many of the small airports in South Africa are to be closed. President Mandela said "we are closing many of them, leaving only a few where we can guarantee a security of all flights and ensure that flights are properly checked".

There have also been reports that the authorities in Namibia are concerned that flights from South Africa are refueling in north-eastern Namibia, prior to flying into UNITA-held territory. According to a report in the Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias on 23 February, Namibian authorities in Kuvango province have pledged to do more to stop such flights.

However, a report by the South African Press Association on 4 February quotes the senior UNITA official in Namibia, Domingues Shikunda, commenting on sanctions that "it will be very, very dangerous for the Namibian government to get involved".

Senior UNITA military figure defects

The official Angolan news agency, ANGOP, reported on 28 January that Brigadier Alexandre Campos, known as Alex, surrendered to authorities in northern Angola. It is understood that Alex was the senior UNITA military leader in Negage, Uige province.

UN launches appeal for aid

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on 13 February launched its 1998 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Angola, calling for $91.2 million for humanitarian and social reintegration needs. The appeal focuses on the one million Angolans who have suffered the most from the effects of the conflict with UNITA.

It targets five priority areas:

  • basic emergency needs, prioritising vulnerable groups
  • support for the resettlement and reintegration of displaced, returnees and demobilised soldiers
  • extension of demining and mine-awareness
  • strengthening government capacity
  • maintaining a rapid response capacity within the UN system

The 1998 appeal recognises that the previous appeal failed to meet its targets because it was over-optimistic on the pace on change in the country. The 1998 appeal admits that political developments such as the return of UNITA MPs to the National Assembly and the integration of UNITA nominees into the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation were not matched by developments on the ground. As a result, the distribution of aid was frequently hampered, and the freedom of movement of people and goods, essential for the recovery of the country, did not exist.

The appeal states that the optimistic view of the situation in Angola, then shared by most of the donors "was soon replaced by a more realistic view of the complexities of the process". The donors entered into a very cautious "wait and see" attitude. As a result, the appeal received less than half the amount requested.

Despite this, the UN reports that its work in 1997 included:

  • the provision of food assistance to 1.2 million people and seeds and tools to over 350,000 families
  • the delivery of health services, including immunisation, to some two million children
  • the provision of humanitarian assistance to over 78,000 quartered UNITA troops and 130,000 family members
  • the completion of the demobilisation of over 42,000 UNITA soldiers
  • the repatriation and reintegration of 60,000 refugees from neighbouring countries
  • the return and reintegration of 60,000 internally displaced people
  • the clearance of about 9 per cent of the 1,800 minefields identified
  • the training of new demining brigades and an extended programme of mine awareness
  • the strengthening of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Reintegration, the National Institute for the Removal of Obstacles and Explosive Ordinance, and the Institute for Social Reintegration of Ex-Combatants.

The 1998 appeal is based on peace being sustainable, but with long periods of stalemate. This less optimistic expectation has led to the appeal being only half of the amount appealed for in 1997. The targets of the appeal are similar to the 1997 appeal, except that it will not have the large obligation towards quartered and demobilised UNITA troops.

Increasing role of Angolan state

The appeal points out that the Angolan government has taken on an increasingly active role in co-ordinating and managing all aspects of the humanitarian programme in 1997.

The UCAH/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCAH) will conclude its responsibilities in relation to demobilisation in March 1998, and will divest itself of responsibility for the coordination of humanitarian assistance operations during the first half of 1998. UCAH will be giving support to the government during the handover of responsibilities.

Role of NGOs highlighted

The report points to the importance attached to Non Governmental Organisations. It says that the presence of NGOs at the field level makes them extremely important components of the decentralisation of the decision-making process; for the assessment and implementation of emergency interventions; and for the transition from emergency relief to rehabilitation and development.

Emergency response capacity

The appeal states that drawing on lessons learnt in 1992/3, the UN will maintain an emergency response capacity, updating the 1997 emergency preparedness plan. It will have the responsibility of ensuring that provincial information on the humanitarian situation is regularly updated and shared; establish an early warning mechanism for natural and man-made disasters; conduct evaluation and assessments of humanitarian emergencies; and continue the provision of common services, such as transport, logistics, telecommunications and security for humanitarian actors.


The World Food Programme is to appeal on behalf of all the agencies and NGOs, and will continue its passenger air services.


The appeal warns that in 1997 the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) programme was dangerously underfunded. The 1998 appeal is to cover the costs of assistance to the 1.44 million Angolans who are either displaced from their homes or refugees in neighbouring countries.

The appeal includes programmes for help with sanitation, education and health for displaced people in situ, transport home, and assistance for people on their return home. Special provision is to be made for particularly vulnerable people, in particular children and the war disabled. Food aid is also a major part of the 1998 appeal, this year focusing on those who have returned home.

Mine action

The objectives of the 1998 appeal are:

  • to survey 75% of mine sites
  • to train another five brigades in order to reach the target of 12 national brigades
  • to continue to train personnel

The funding requirements, approximately $10 million, will be sought through the UNDP trust Fund and the UN Demining Trust Fund.

Rehabilitation and reintegration

Longer-term rehabilitation projects are to be dealt with through the UNDP/Brussels round table mechanism, within the context of the government's National Community and Rehabilitation Programme.


1 The Joint Commission is the body overseeing the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol. It is comprised of representatives from the Angolan government, UNITA, and the troika observer states of the Russian Federation, Portugal and United States. It is chaired by the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Angola.

2 The Lusaka Protocol, signed on 20 November 1994 is a comprehensive framework for restoring peace and democracy in Angola on the basis of the Bicesse "Acordos de Paz" of May 1991 and the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

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:, 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 individuals.

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