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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, 10

Angola: Peace Monitor, IV, 10
Date Distributed (ymd): 980711
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This issue of the Angola Peace Monitor notes preparations for a return to war in Angola, additional UN sanctions imposed on UNITA, and the death in a plane crash of the chief UN envoy in Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye.

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

Issue no 10, Vol. IV 2 July 1998

War looms as UNITA shuns peace process

There are clear signs that UNITA is preparing to relaunch its war in Angola. In desperation the United Nations has imposed further sanctions on UNITA in an effort to force it back into the peace process, which has also been shaken by the death of the architect of the Lusaka Protocol(1), the UN envoy Alioune Blondin Beye.

There have been authoritative reports that UNITA is massing its troops in the east of the country. The government army, FAA, is also reported to be digging in to defensive positions in preparation for a large attack. Up until now FAA has by and large left the restoration of state control of the country to the mechanisms under the Lusaka Protocol.

The United Nations Security Council made clear on 12 June that the "critical situation" in Angola was the "result of the failure by UNITA to implement its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol" and its failure to abide by its obligations under the "crisis resolution plan" adopted by the Angolan government and UNITA on 15 May.

Reversal of UNITA territorial handover

The depth of the crisis was highlighted by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in his report to the Security Council on 17 June (S/1998/524). It shows that since his last report on 16 April only three localities held by UNITA were handed over to state administration. In fact, it highlighted how the normalisation process had been reversed in some localities.

Reports from Angola show that many areas which had been handed back to the government have been retaken by UNITA. It is estimated that 10 towns were retaken by UNITA troops in June, including the strategically important town of Luau, Moxico province. Luau is where the Benguela railway line enters DR Congo. UN personnel, along with Angolan and international humanitarian officials, fled Luau in mid-June under threat of imminent attack from UNITA. The UN personnel and aid workers joined an estimated 15,000 people who fled Luau.

The UN has lost track of 1,400 Rwandans who were being screened by the UNHCR at Luau to see if they were part of the extremist Hutu force responsible for massacres in Rwanda. It has been widely alleged that Hutu extremists have fought alongside UNITA, and it is feared that some of the Rwandans may now be with UNITA. A spokesperson for the UNHCR, Paul Stromberg stated that "it is unclear where they have gone".

Several other important towns in Moxico province have been recaptured. The Angolan government has said that Lumege-Kameia, Luacano, Alto-Zambeze, Lumbala-Nguimbo and Lacy-Dilolo have been seized. The Lusa news agency reported on 16 June that UNITA now controls the northern part of Uige province bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cazomba, Moxico province has come under attack, and Piri, Bengo province, was seized on 16 June. In Malanje province, nine people were killed and eight wounded when UNITA attacked vehicles along the Cangandala-Mussende road on 15 June.

It is estimated that UNITA has around 30,000 trained soldiers in place, including 15,000 in its elite units, despite efforts by the UN to demobilise UNITA. Reports state that UNITA is forcibly recruiting for its army, and that FAA is also on a recruitment drive. A report by the UN funded IRIN news service states that "independent accounts allege that UNITA has several thousand mercenaries outside the country, drawn from the defeated armies of the previous regimes in Rwanda, Zaire and Congo-Brazzaville".

Military analysts point out that UNITA is creating a corridor between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the central highlands, through which it will be able to move troops and smuggle goods. It is reported that UNITA troops are being brought into the country through this corridor. A mid-term goal may be to surround the diamond-rich Lundas with a view to seizing them back from government control.

International agencies retreat in face of attacks

International aid agencies working in Angola are reported to be stopping their work as the situation deteriorates. According to George Kruessner of the German Menschen Gegen Minen, quoted by the Mail & Guardian on 26 June, most NGOs active in Angola have withdrawn from the field and are now "sitting at the closest airport in case they need to be evacuated on short notice".

In May the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UCAH) said that four of the country's 18 provinces were unsafe. UCAH now states that ten provinces are unsafe - Uige, Malange, Bie, Huambo, Benguela, Huila, Bengo, Kwanza Norte, Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul. Attacks on UN personnel by UNITA soldiers resulted in MONUA suspending patrols in Malange, Huambo, Huila and Benguela for two weeks. By the end of June, MONUA had withdrawn its personnel from 18 of the 59 team sites due to lack of security.

The continuing withdrawal of UN peacekeeping troops from Angola has left several key provinces unmonitored. The three remaining infantry companies are to operate from six main bases, which are mostly located in government-controlled areas, leading some to ask what MONUA is now actually observing.

The threat of FAA becoming actively involved in fighting with UNITA was raised by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who said that the government would react to reverse the "serious military political situation" after 30 June if there had been no progress.

UN envoy dies in air crash

The United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative to Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, died on 26 June when his aircraft crashed in the Ivory Coast.

Alioune Blondin Beye was widely respected in the international community for his optimism and his ability to keep the Lusaka Peace Process alive. However, until recently many observers had criticised him for not stamping on UNITA for running a double agenda of procrastination over its obligations under the protocol whilst maintaining its military capacity.

Maitre Beye's chartered twin-turboprop Beechcraft 200 plane crashed 50km east of the Ivorian capital Abidjan on a flight from Togo. It is understood that he visited Togo, and was on his way to the Ivory Coast, in an effort to get these two countries to persuade UNITA-leader Jonas Savimbi to embrace the peace process. Both countries have a history of support for the rebel movement, with the Ivory Coast providing passports for many leading UNITA figures (including the resident UNITA representative in London, Mr Anibal Kandeya).

According to the London-based newspaper, The Independent, at his meeting with Jonas Savimbi the day before he died, Beye was told that "UNITA had no intention of handing over control of its territory to the government". It reported that Beye's staff said that he was "visibly upset after the meeting with UNITA".

Death follows break with UNITA

The relationship between UNITA and the UN envoy had soured in recent weeks, following Beye's threat to resign unless four UNITA strongholds, Andulo, Bailundo, Mungo and Nharea were handed over to state administration by 1 June. Following the failure of UNITA to do so, the UN Security Council agreed on 25 June to impose a new set of international sanctions on the rebels. UNITA's Standing Committee of the Political Commission responded on 25 June warning "let the proponent of these dates, the mediator, be responsible and held accountable".

Jonas Savimbi is reported to have told his supporters on 6 June that the imposition of additional sanctions would be considered to be an attack against UNITA, to which it should be "ready to respond".

Given this context speculation has grown that the air crash was not an accident. Crash investigators from the United Nations, United States (country of manufacture), South Africa (country of registration of aircraft) and Ivory Coast (country of accident) are looking into the circumstances surrounding the crash. They will want to follow up reports that an explosion was seen in the sky at the time of the crash.

The United Nations have announced that as soon as the technical investigation is completed, a United Nations Board of Inquiry will thoroughly examine all aspects of the accident. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been requested to assist the United Nations Board of Inquiry in completing its findings and recommendations.

This is not the first time that a senior UN official has died in an aircraft crash. The Secretary General of the UN, Dag Hammarskjold, died in an air crash in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1961, and the UN's Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, died in Pan Am 103 following an explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988.

Following Beye's death the Joint Commission(2) appointed the UN Observer Mission's military commander, General Kofi Obeng, as acting Chairman. General Obeng, from Ghana, is new to Angola, having replaced the Zimbabwean General Sibanda in April.

Sanctions imposed as UN blames UNITA for disintegration of peace process

A third set of UN sanctions was imposed against the Angolan movement UNITA on 1 July, following the failure of the rebels to hand over the "sensitive" areas still under military occupation.

The sanctions were adopted by the UN Security Council on 12 June (SCR/1173), but gave UNITA until 25 June to comply with the international community's demands. The deadline was extended on 24 June (SCR/1176), following UNITA's plea to be given until 1 July to hand over its strongholds.

The new set of sanctions are aimed at:

  • freezing UNITA's funds worldwide
  • banning the importation of diamonds from Angola which have not been officially sanctioned by the government
  • prohibiting the sale of mining equipment, motorised vehicles and watercraft to UNITA.

UNITA ignores final chances

UNITA had agreed in early March to hand over completely their strongholds of Andulo, Bailundo, Mungo and Nharea by 1 April. Having failed to meet this deadline, UNITA were then given until the end of May under Alioune Blondin Beye's "crisis resolution plan".

Even as sanctions were being put in place on 1 July, UNITA's Abel Chivukuvuku was seeking a fortnight's extension to the deadline.

Unless international action to enforce these sanctions is markedly stronger than with previous impositions, the practical impact is likely to be limited. The sale of diamonds is particularly difficult to control, especially with UNITA's close connections with diamond dealers. Money from the diamond sales over the years will have been laundered through several bank accounts, none in the name of the movement or its leading figures. Lawyers would have been employed to look after funds and assets, and they are given legal protection from disclosing client information.

However, the sanctions do give a clear signal to UNITA that their attitude towards the peace process will not be tolerated. The resolution "condemns UNITA, and holds its leadership responsible for the failure to implement fully its obligations contained in the Lusaka Protocol, relevant Security Council resolutions". The resolution also "reiterates its demand that UNITA complete its demilitarisation and stop any attempts to restore its military capabilities".

In a related story, the South African Minister for Home Affairs, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, announced on 1 June that a travel ban had been put in place on senior UNITA officials in line with previous international sanctions.

UN extend MONUA mandate for further 6 weeks

The UN Security Council on 29 June extended the mandate for MONUA until 15 August. The Secretary General, in his report on 17 June (S/1998/524), stated that if the peace process was continuing smoothly he would ask for the mandate to be extended until the end of August.

However, he said that "should it become clear that there is no political will to complete the peace process expeditiously, I intend to resume the withdrawal of United Nations troops in accordance with resolution 1164 of 29 April 1998, and to stop the deployment to Angola of the additional police observers whose presence was intended to enhance confidence between the parties and to consolidate MONUA's deployment throughout the country. It would also become necessary in such a situation to review the United Nations involvement in Angola".

Need for humanitarian support highlighted

The Secretary-General in his report (S/1998/524) pointed out that the humanitarian conditions in many provinces were deteriorating. Kofi Annan pointed out that this coincides with severe funding difficulties for the Angolan operations of the UN High Commission for Refugees ($11 million), the International Organisation for Migration ($3.4 million), and the UN Children's Fund ($2.6 million). He points out that if these organisations do not meet their funding requirements they will have to reduce their activities in Angola drastically.

The situation is particularly grim as over one million people are now officially displaced due to the conflict. The planting season is supposed to start in July and September, and this will result in fewer crops being grown, leading to a continuation of the humanitarian crisis next year.

On top of this, a severe drought in Cunene province is resulting in crop failure. A commission has been created to coordinate measures to soften the effect on the population. The drought is affecting 128,000 people in Cunene province and 50,000 in Cuando Cubango province.


1 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.

2 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.

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.

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