news analysis advocacy
tips on searching

Search AfricaFocus and 9 Partner Sites



Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Equatorial Guinea
São Tomé
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan
Western Sahara

Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!

Print this page

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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, 9

Angola: Peace Monitor, IV, 9
Date Distributed (ymd): 980609
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This issue of the Angola Peace Monitor notes last-minute efforts to bring a successful conclusion to the Angola peace process before withdrawal of the UN Observer Mission. After a meeting of the UN Security Council on June 5, subsequent to the June 1 closing date of this issue, a new resolution threatening additional sanctions against UNITA was being drafted. For more recent developments, see the UN web site (

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

Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no. 9, Vol. IV 1 June 1998

United Nations lose grip in Angola

There are signs that the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) is struggling to meet its international obligations as military attacks by the rebel movement UNITA increase. The decision by the UN Security Council on 29 April to cut the size of MONUA's troops from 1,045 to 450 by the end of June has reduced the ability of MONUA to verify government allegations of attacks by UNITA, at the same time as military tension has risen in the country.

In a last ditch attempt to resurrect the deadlocked peace process the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, on 19 May threatened to resign unless a new timetable for completing the peace process was met.

Meeting on 19 May the Joint Commission, a body made up by representatives of the Angolan government, UNITA, the Troika of Observers (Russia, United States and Portugal) and MONUA, agreed to a plan drawn up by Beye. The plan gave UNITA twelve days to hand over areas still under military occupation. This refers in particular to the UNITA strongholds of Bailundo, Andulo, Nharea and Mungo.

The proposals also require that the Angolan government stops all unverified allegations against UNITA, and that the national police cease alleged abuses in areas recently retaken from UNITA.

Under the new proposals, the Security Council is to impose further sanctions on UNITA if it fails to carry out its obligations. According to a MONUA spokesperson, if the Security Council does not provide Beye with the necessary support, then he will "simply tell the Security Council to find somebody else".

Government complies with demands

According to diplomatic sources, the Angolan government has taken steps to comply with the latest set of proposals.

Diplomatic sources informed the Angola Peace Monitor on 28 May that there has been a reduction in anti-UNITA propaganda, and that the UN has confirmed a reduction in anti-UNITA actions by the national police.

Sources in Angola have highlighted the contradiction that the Angolan government is not supposed to publicise unverified attacks by UNITA at the same time as MONUA is admitting that its ability to verify attacks is being reduced by the cuts in MONUA and the worsening military situation.

UNITA fails to deliver

In contrast to the efforts of the Angolan government, UNITA has failed to hand over its major strongholds.

According to diplomatic sources, there is growing consensus in the international community that further sanctions must be implemented against UNITA. In particular, the freezing of UNITA's bank accounts are being mooted as the first target of new sanctions.

The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, is due to report to the Security Council by the middle of June. If there has not been significant progress by then, it is likely that new sanctions will be imposed.

Armed attacks by UNITA on increase

There has been a large increase in reports of attacks by UNITA in the month of May. However, effective action by MONUA has been hampered by a lack of personnel and recent attacks on its members.

The recent attacks on MONUA (see APM no.8 vol. IV) have led to the UN organisation moving away from an analysis which blamed violence on "roving bandits" and rogue UNITA elements. They have been compelled to confront the organised nature of the attacks.

Alioune Blondin Beye stated on 12 May that "we are, unfortunately, witnessing an escalation of violence, of acts carried out here and there which are beyond simple acts of banditry. These are serious acts of rebellion and acts of military nature which cannot fail to be noticed by anyone".

According to the London-based Africa Analysis, the UN points to "the discipline of the troops, indications of well-planned operations and the quality of arms used as evidence that UNITA forces are responsible".

Recent evidence that has emerged about UNITA's arms smuggling operation has shown that the organisation has not given up its military ambitions. On 1 May the South African Mail and Guardian published details of a large consignment of South African military vehicle (SAMil) all-terrain trucks that were flown to Angola in December in violation of the arms embargo. According to the report, the fleet of trucks was part of a R32 million order for military and logistical equipment.

These new revelations show that, far from retaining some military personnel and arms to keep its options open, UNITA is rearming and preparing to continue as a guerilla force.

The South African government has pledged to end illegal flights to Angola. On 14 May, General Si Paka of the South African army stated during a visit to Luanda that Pretoria would take steps to prevent any violations of Angolan airspace by planes supplying UNITA.

MONUA hampered by deteriorating security situation

Attacks by UNITA forces have been reported in much of the country. In particular Benguela, Huambo, Huila, Bie, Malange, Uige and Lunda Norte provinces have been targeted for attacks. However, MONUA has admitted that the situation in some areas is so dangerous that it cannot verify many of the attacks.

In Huambo, Namibian peacekeepers are due to leave within days, leaving no peacekeepers in the province.

MONUA has, however, been able to confirm an attack on its own personnel. On 19 May a MONUA vehicle was attacked in Malange province. An interpreter was murdered and several people including a MONUA military observer were injured. The attack brought a swift condemnation from the UN Security Council in a Presidential Statement (S/PRST/1998/14).

There have been many other alleged attacks by UNITA, some of which have been confirmed by the UN. These include:

Lunda Norte province

In Cuango District along the Mbila-Musucu road on 15 May two vehicles were attacked, resulting in the murder of 11 people including the commander of border police in Cuango, Superintendent Lutucuta, and several policemen. Lunda Sul province

UNITA troops attacked and occupied Chassengue, Alto Chicapa and Cucumbi communes in Cacolo District on 5 May. It is alleged that the aim of the attack was to occupy areas where diamond mining can be carried out. MONUA was unable to land a helicopter to verify the attack due to the lack of security.

Bengo province

An attack on Bula Atumba, Maluquim and Quibaxe on 10 May, killing three.

Malange province

In Quirima and Luquembo Districts on 11 May where attacking forces occupied the area.

UNITA occupied the capital of Massango District on 8 May. UNITA soldiers allegedly surrounded Quela and Cunde Districts with the intention of occupying these areas. UNITA also reportedly occupied Cualo commune in Calandula District and Quenguengue in Massango.

On 4 and 5 May UNITA attacked and occupied the commune of Chacassa murdering the local traditional chief, and another citizen.

Benguela province

MONUA has confirmed an incident in Casseque on 2 May, where a passenger vehicle detonated a land mine on the Gamba-Casseque road. The passengers were attacked by UNITA troops. Seven Angolan police officers were killed, including the police commander for Casseque, and three civilians. Two Angolan armed forces [FAA] soldiers, and another policeman are still missing.

Huila province

MONUA also confirmed that a vehicle belonging to Medecins Sans Frontieres was attacked along the Cacomba-Chicomba route on 4 May. A MSF worker was shot in the abdomen.

Cabinda province

MONUA has also confirmed an attack in Cabinda on 3 May. A group of unidentified men fired shots near the MONUA camp in the area.

National police face brunt of UNITA actions

Alioune Blondin Beye confirmed on 26 May that at least 60 policemen have been murdered since the beginning of the year.

Although the Angolan army, FAA, is very well equipped, the main task of restoring law and order in areas recently handed over to state administration has fallen upon the national police.

Thousands flee attacks

According to a report published by the United Nation's humanitarian assistance unit (UCAH) on 26 May, forty thousand people have fled their homes for safety in government controlled towns in just one month.

According to the reports, in the period from 14 April to 15 May 34,000 people fled their homes in Benguela province, 2,558 in Bengo province, 1,000 in Uije province, 1,087 in Malange province, 336 in Lunda-Sul province and 1,500 in Huambo province.

Recently returned areas targeted

According to an international aid worker who has just returned from Angola, many communes that have recently been returned to state administration are still under effective UNITA control. In Sambo and Hundulo communes, Huambo province, the aid worker witnessed the tenuous hold of the government. State administration was essentially comprised of an administrator and a police post.

In areas such as this there is a great difficulty in getting health, education and other social projects up and running as state workers fear for their lives.

Areas recently handed over to state administration have been particularly targeted by UNITA.

At the beginning of May the administrator of Ngove was murdered in cold blood by UNITA, following a five hour assault on the town, involving 150 soldiers and 250 sympathisers. UN observers were said to have been stripped naked. According to a report by the South African news agency, SAPA, this was the 134th such incident since the beginning of March.

Gunmen also murdered Geronimo Sacavinja, the government administrator in Kahala, Huambo province.

Government may turn to army to restore state administration

There are signs that the Angolan government may turn to the army to restore peace in areas currently facing organised attacks by UNITA.

Government minister General Higino Carneiro said on 12 May that if state control "cannot be achieved peacefully, it may be done by force".

Many western commentators who have predicted an all-out assault by the Angolan army have, until now, been proved wrong. Analysts have been surprised by the patience shown by the government. However, the failure of UNITA to hand back Andulo and Bailuando has rekindled the speculation, notably by Africa Analysis, Africa Confidential, and the Institute for Security Studies.

World Bank grants $5 million for mine clearance

The World Bank has lent the Social Reintegration Ministry five million dollars to be used towards removing landmines.

Fall in oil prices blows hole in government budget

The Angolan government has suffered a major economic blow following the recent fall in oil prices to around $14 per barrel.

The Government's budget for 1998 was based on the country producing 800,000 barrels per day at a price of $18. This represents a fall in oil revenues of over a billion dollars.

The share of the government's revenue reliant upon oil is roughly 58%. However, if one adds the planned $700 million in external loans, which are guaranteed by oil production, then the effective share of total government revenue dependent upon oil rises to 76.7%. In 1997 oil accounted for 80% of government revenue.

The fall in the price of oil is likely to reduce total oil revenues from the planned $5 billion to only $4 billion. For the government, if oil prices were to remain at this level, it would leave the government with a hole of 20 per cent in its planned revenue.

To put this in perspective, the military budget accounts for 13.49 per cent of the total, whilst the combined budget for health, sanitation, education and culture amounts to just under 20 per cent.

According to economic analysts, there are several factors standing in the way of a recovery in oil prices in the short term. First, the northern hemisphere is the major user of petroleum products, and the demand is traditionally lower in the summer months. Second, the economic crisis affecting east Asia has reduced demand. Third, there is no shortage of production worldwide at present.

In the medium term, new oilfields are being exploited in Angola, and there are high hopes that by the year 2001 production will be over a million barrels per day, rising to perhaps over 2 million barrels per day by 2010. However, much of the new production is being based upon contracts where the exploration companies, such as BP, Gulf, Chevron and Exxon, take the risk by paying for the exploration costs, which are then recouped when oil is extracted. With the new oilfields increasingly being found in expensive, deepwater locations, there will be a significant lag between new oil discoveries, oil exploitation, and oil revenues reaching the government.

One source of additional income will be signing-on fees, where a payment is made to the government for the right to exploit blocks. According to Africa Confidential, in 1997 BHP paid $41 million, Exxon $71 million and Agip $80 million for rights. The journal estimates that payments in excess of $100 million will be made for some of the blocks coming up for tender in the next month.

Another source of revenue for the government is the diamond fields, many of which were retaken from UNITA at the beginning of the year.

The diamond mining sector looks set to grow if stability can be assured in the diamond regions. The diamond giant, De Beers, recently announced that it had discovered two kimberlite pipes in Lunda Sul. However, unlike much of the illegal mining, these large scale projects require a huge amount of investment.

The only other avenue open to the government to avoid huge cuts in public spending is to borrow. However, the government has been unable to come to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to reschedule its $10.5 billion debt. The IMF sent a delegation to Luanda in mid-May to re-open negotiations with the Angolan government, but no agreement has been reached. Without the IMF's blessing, the Angolan government is forced to rely on expensive short term debts, guaranteed by future oil production.

The result of this is that the government will be forced to make huge cuts in public spending, at a time when there is growing discontent at the poverty faced by the people. Some commentators have speculated that UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi's tactic of deadlocking the peace process is his way of ensuring that the economy cannot recover, and that Angolans will eventually blame the MPLA and President dos Santos. However, there is no indication that UNITA is growing in strength as a political alternative.

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
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.

URL for this file: