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Angola: Peace Monitor, IV, 9
Angola: Peace Monitor, IV, 9
Date Distributed (ymd): 980609
Document reposted by APIC
Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
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 (http://www.un.org/News).
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
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
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
An attack on Bula Atumba, Maluquim and Quibaxe on 10 May, killing three.
In Quirima and Luquembo Districts on 11 May where attacking forces occupied
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.