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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, V, 1

Angola: Peace Monitor, V, 1
Date Distributed (ymd): 981008
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+
Summary Contents: This issue of the Angola Peace Monitor provides details on division in UNITA between Jonas Savimbi and other factions opting for cooperation with the Angolan government rather than continued war.

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

Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no. 1, Vol V, 7th October 1998

Jonas Savimbi isolated as UNITA leaders call for renewal

UNITA strongman Jonas Savimbi is facing increasing isolation following the decision of leading political figures in UNITA to set up a Renewal Committee and remove him from his leadership position.

The decision to set up an alternative leadership follows the Angolan government's refusal to continue to allow Jonas Savimbi supporters to continue to hold positions in the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation (GURN) and the National Assembly whilst UNITA simultaneously takes military action.

The government is seeking to isolate Savimbi politically - both internally and internationally - and has moved quickly to recognise the new leadership. However, it is not yet clear whether the new leadership will prove to be a credible alternative to Jonas Savimbi, or if it will have any control over UNITA's military wing.

The government's strategy is to build support internationally for the new leadership, paving the way for a government counter-offensive against Savimbi's forces.

UNITA - Renewal formed

On 2 September five leading figures from UNITA declared that they had taken control of the organisation and had set up a Renewal Committee. Leading the group was Jorge Valentim, a contemporary of Savimbi and the UNITA nominee for the position of Minister of Hotels and Tourism in the GURN.

Three UNITA nominated deputy ministers were also unveiled as part of the new committee: General Demostenes Chilingutila, Jeronimo Ngongo Marcolino and Julio Antonio,

The leadership of this faction is made up of political figures sent to Luanda by Jonas Savimbi as part of his dual strategy. The exception to this is Eugenio Manuvakola, who signed the Lusaka Protocol on behalf of UNITA when he was the organisation's Secretary General. Following the signing of the peace accord, Manuvakola was arrested by Savimbi and jailed until he escaped.

The committee declared that they were suspending Jonas Savimbi from his position as leader, stating that he has "proved incapable of meeting the commitments freely accepted in the Lusaka Protocol and has adopted a policy which is contrary to the interests of the party members and the people of Angola". They installed a provisional leadership until the holding of the 9th national congress, perhaps as early as next year, to elect a new leadership.

Government recognises faction

The Angolan government on 4 September announced that it was suspending dialogue with UNITA members loyal to Jonas Savimbi.

In line with this policy the government accepted the proposal of UNITA-R that Eugenio Manuvakola replace Isaias Samakuva as UNITA's representative to the Joint Commission which oversees the Lusaka peace process. Samakuva had been the UNITA representative for four years. However, he had gone absent from Luanda for several weeks, only returning from the UNITA-held areas after heavy pressure from the United Nations.

Isaias Samakuva left Luanda for Europe on 2 September. He has travelled to Belgium, France and Portugal and is currently awaiting a decision on a visa application to enter Britain.

The government on 23 September reinstated all but two of the UNITA ministers and vice-ministers who had been suspended on 31 August following UNITA's refusal to meet a government deadline for the handover of the huge areas still under its military occupation. A government statement said that it had reviewed the situation because of the position taken by the new leadership of UNITA.

However, the Minister of Geology and Mines, Marcos Samondo, and the Vice-Minister of Communication, Aurelio Joao Evangelista, who had both refused to break from Jonas Savimbi, were formally dismissed by a Presidential decree.

UNITA parliamentarians in disarray

The 70 UNITA parliamentarians nominated by their organisation to take up seats in the National Assembly are in a state of chaos following the decision of the government to suspend them on 31 August.

Few UNITA parliamentarians came out in support of the new leadership. Evaristo Ramos Chipumba was one of the few who did.

On 9 September a press conference, held by UNITA parliamentarian Jaka Jamba in the name of the UNITA parliamentary group, denounced the setting up of the Renewal Committee. A statement said that only a meeting between President dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi could bring about a resolution to the crisis in the country. Interestingly, Abel Chivukuvuku did not attend the press conference, despite then being the nominal head of the UNITA parliamentary delegation.

However, on 25 September 55 of the parliamentarians announced that they were distancing themselves from Jonas Savimbi and were supporting the peace process. It is clear though that they were still not fully supporting Jorge Valentim's new leadership. It appears that while this grouping has made the break with Savimbi, they judge that Valentim and Manuvakola are too close to the government - or they may simply be keeping their options open while other leadership contenders decide whether to come forward. Signs are that they are remaining loyal to Abel Chivukuvuku, who revealed that he has not been in contact with the Savimbi leadership for over a year. On 25 September, Chivukuvuku announced that "I have had disputes with Andulo. From now on I am a free man, a citizen of peace". However, on 2 October Chivukuvuku said that someone had fired on his car in Luanda in an attempt to pressurise him into joining the UNITA Renewal Committee.

It now seems likely that the UNITA parliamentary group has done enough to distance itself from Savimbi, without supporting the UNITA-R leadership, to be re-admitted into the National Assembly.

The UNITA-R leadership has given the National Assembly's Standing Committee the names of its nominees. Under Angola's parliamentary system, parliamentary seats are allocated on a party list system.

The Standing Committee met on 25 September, when they considered the list of 57 nominees to fill the 70 vacant UNITA places. Fifty-five of the nominees were previous UNITA members of the National Assembly, with two new names added. It is understood that of the 15 former parliamentarians left off the list, twelve are currently living in Europe.

One of the new names added is that of Euginio Manuvakola, who has been nominated as the leader of the parliamentary group. However, there is real confusion over the loyalties of the new UNITA parliamentary group.

The parliamentary group opposed the imposition of Manuvakola, which it considers irregular and illegal, and is supporting Abel Chivukuvuku.

Informed sources suggest that the differences between Valentim and Chivukuvuku are centred on who should lead UNITA rather than on whether to continue to support Savimbi. The London-based journal, Africa Analysis, suggests that Chivukuvuku would be supported by the United States if he provided a leadership challenge to Jonas Savimbi. It is likely that a third UNITA leadership will be announced, gaining the support of many UNITA political figures in Luanda.

However, some UNITA figures will stress their "independence" in an effort to continue a political career without endangering the lives of family members left in Savimbi's UNITA-held areas. This may be the case with Vitorino Hossi, who announced on 7 September that he was freezing all his party activities, and would continue as an independent. He stated that he did not subscribe to the UNITA-R manifesto. Hossi was among the ministers reinstated on 23 September.

In another move, on 25 September the ruling MPLA called on parliament to rescind the law giving Jonas Savimbi special status as leader of the main opposition movement.

The next parliamentary sitting begins on 15 October.

Ex-UNITA generals support government

As part of the government's strategy of isolating Jonas Savimbi, former UNITA generals who have joined the government's army issued a statement on 10 September calling on UNITA's military wing to end their "warmongering". Deputy Minister of Defence, General Demostenes Chilingutila read the statement, in the presence of generals Ben Ben, Wiyo, Henda, Pongolola, Sunguete, Regresso and Ngele.

Other support

Former UNITA deputy president Miguel Nzau Puna on 8 September announced that he was supporting the split in UNITA. Nzau Puna is vice-minister for Territorial Administration. He intimated that he would be prepared to join UNITA-R.

There have been several defections from Savimbi throughout the country. However, these are mainly confined to UNITA supporters in government-held areas. One major exception was the reported defection of 1,000 people from a military camp in Cunene. Included in this number are 600 UNITA soldiers who handed-over their weapons to government forces.

UN and troika in quandary

Recent developments in Angola have left the United Nations and the troika of observer nations (Russia, United States and Portugal) in a difficult position.

The decision of the Andulo-based UNITA leadership to suspend all contact with the troika observers, and the decision to withdraw its representative at the Joint Commission, Isaias Samakuva, to Andulo for several weeks effectively stalled the formal peace process. The intensifying military actions by UNITA's forces leave no doubt that the movement is pursuing a military strategy.

Now that the Angolan government has recognised an alternative leadership to Jonas Savimbi, which includes members who were senior in the UNITA leadership at the time the Lusaka Protocol was signed, the UN and the troika will need to decide whether it is to accept the de facto UNITA leadership in Luanda - at the expense of Jonas Savimbi or to declare the Lusaka peace process dead. It is clear that the UN would like the government to resume dialogue with Jonas Savimbi, as he continues to have control over UNITA's army. However, there is little likelihood that the Angolan government will re-recognise Jonas Savimbi given his failure up until now to demilitarise his organisation.

The UN has not so far taken any public decision on the status of the Renewal Committee. However, the Secretary General's Special Representative in Angola, Issa B Y Diallo, has been instructed by Kofi Annan to visit Andulo to meet with Jonas Savimbi. However, the Angolan government has so far refused permission for him to travel to Andulo on the grounds that it cannot ensure his safety. The government would prefer him not to meet with Savimbi and to recognise Valentim as leader of UNITA.

It is also not clear that Savimbi is in Andulo. There are persistent rumours that Savimbi has fled to Togo, after a stop in Uganda where he discussed the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo with President Museveni. President Museveni recently stated that he was considering giving support to UNITA.

The troika of observer nations meanwhile issued on 24 September a communiqu warning both the government and UNITA that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Angola. The troika also wrote personally to Jonas Savimbi on 25 September stating that "today the towns of Andulo, Bailundo, Mungo and Nharea remain under UNITA's control. Moreover, during the last six months UNITA troops recaptured towns that had already been handed over to the central administration. The demilitarisation of UNITA required by the Lusaka Protocol has not been completed. For its part the Angolan government has fully honoured its undertakings under the Lusaka Protocol."

The letter goes on to state that "only you, Mr Savimbi, can help reverse it by urgently contacting President dos Santos with a view to holding talks on how UNITA can conclude the peace process and on immediate steps to avert war. This is UNITA's last chance to secure a legitimate and constructive place in Angola's political context. Should it fail to respond with irreversible steps, such as extending the central government's administration to the whole of Angola and full demilitarisation, we shall be obliged to conclude that it does not want peace".

The implication of this letter is that if Savimbi does not take steps to avert war, he will be held responsible for any future conflict.

FNLA have internal problems

The other historic political movement in Angola, the FNLA, has split, with a 51-strong caretaker committee on 3 September publicly removing the FNLA founder, Holden Roberto, who was replaced by a co-ordinator - Lucas Ngonda. The committee is organising a conference in January 1999 to elect a replacement for Roberto.

In response, Holden Roberto expelled the members of the caretaker committee, calling their actions unconstitutional.

The FNLA currently has five seats in the National Assembly.

UN extends mission by one month

The United Nations Security Council on 16 September adopted Resolution 1195(1998) which extended the UN Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) until 15 October, and requested that the UN Secretary General report to the Security Council by 8 October.

The Security Council stated that "the primary cause of the crisis in Angola and the current impasse in the peace process is the failure by the leadership of UNITA to comply with its obligations".

The Security Council had before it a letter from President dos Santos that requested that the Security Council take up a position of recognising UNITA-R as the only legitimate interlocutor for the completion of the Lusaka Protocol.

Kofi Annan, in his report to the Security Council on 7 September (S/1998/838), stated that there should be a full-scale review of MONUA by the end of November, and that if there had been no substantial progress by then, MONUA should be wound up by February.

SADC support may tip military balance

Southern Africa's leaders have paved the way for military assistance to the Angolan government should Savimbi's UNITA continue to refuse to demilitarise.

A meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) military chiefs in Luanda on 29 September discussed what practical support the region can give to the Angolan army. Mozambique, Botswana, Mauritius and Lesotho did not send a delegation, though only Botswana would have been in a position to offer any significant assistance.

Beyond the political significance of this decision lies the question of what concrete military backing the Angolan government might receive. A major deployment by the South African Defence Force could alter the military balance greatly in favour of the Angolan government. Angola's military capacity has been stretched by the presence of thousands of its crack troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they have been assisting Laurent Kabila.

The decision to look at regional military aid follows the SADC Heads of State or Government meeting in Mauritius. A statement on 14 September said that the meeting considered Savimbi to be "the person solely responsible for the increasing deterioration of the security situation in Angola" and concluded that "the behaviour of Mr Jonas Malheiro Savimbi is that of a war criminal and, thus, renders him objectively incapable of leading his party onto the road of peace in Angola".

The statement went on to recognise the UNITA-R leadership as valid negotiators, and called on "the UN, the troika of observer nations and the entire international community to recognise the new leadership of UNITA". Further international support for the Angolan government came from a Central African Countries Heads of State summit in Gabon on 24 September. The summit called for Savimbi to be isolated, and for the international community to recognise the UNITA renewal committee.

Fighting intensifies

Stopping short of the all-out war that some had predicted, armed clashes between the Angolan army and UNITA troops have continued throughout the country. UNITA has continued to seize towns and villages, whilst the government has hit back, retaking some locations.

UNITA had seized control of the important diamond-mining town of Luremo on 31 August, but this was retaken by the government on 18 September.

The strategic dam at Ngove in Huambo province has also been under fierce attack from UNITA. Government forces were said to be under heavy artillery fire on 9 September. The dam is an important source of hydroelectricity, and is linked to the Epupa energy project.

Uige province has been the site of serious conflict, with UNITA attacking several locations. In Puri on 9 September the police headquarters and other buildings were destroyed in the fighting.

The town of Maquela do Zombo, Uige province, was attacked and occupied on 10 September. It is alleged that UNITA was then supplied by aircraft landing at the town's airport. Government forces retook the town on 18 September.

There have been persistent allegations that UNITA has been bringing its troops into Angola from the Democratic Republic of Congo along with defeated forces from the Rwandan backed "Banyamulenges" (Congolese from a Tutsi ethnic background).

In Malanje province only 4 of the 14 districts are under government control, with several districts being recently seized by UNITA.

According to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, "UNITA forces continued to threaten the positions of FAA and the Angolan National Police in Uige, Cuanza Norte, Malanje, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Moxico and Bie provinces". The report also points out that the Angolan army is laying "protective minefields" around their positions, and that UNITA is also laying mines. Most demining operations in the country have been suspended due to the increasing insecurity. A number of demining organisations have suspended their operations in a direct protest at the relaying of mines.

Insecurity halts aid convoys

The security situation in the country has deteriorated to such an extent that the World Food Programme has suspended deliveries to some areas. This decision followed an attack on a WFP convoy, which was escorted by MONUA. The convoy of 21 trucks carrying food for Uige province was attacked on 16 September by UNITA in Cuanza Norte province. One UN member was killed and six others injured in the attack.

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). 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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