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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, 5

Angola: Peace Monitor, V, 5
Date Distributed (ymd): 990129
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
Summary Contents: This issue of the Angola Peace Monitor renewed escalation of war. Since the Monitor went to press, Unita has captured the strategic town of Mbanza Congo, close to oil-producing areas, and the Angolan government has announced that it will officially abandon the 4-year-old Lusaka peace treaty with Unita. For recent news see: and

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

Issue no. 5, Vol. V
22nd January 1999

[excerpts; full text can be found at]

UN prepares to withdraw MONUA

The United Nations looks set to pull out its 1,000 member peacekeeping mission in Angola, MONUA, after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan accepted that the peace process agreed in Lusaka in 1994 was effectively over.

Behind the scenes at the UN Headquarters in New York, frantic moves were afoot to reconcile the Secretary General's bleak assessment of the UN's role in Angola with the need to keep an effective presence in the country.

In a Presidential Statement made on 21 January (S/PRST/1999/3) the Security Council "underlines the great importance it attaches to a continued multidisciplinary presence of the UN under the direction of a Representative of the Secretary-General in Angola". ...

In his report to the Security Council (S/1999/49) on 17 January the Secretary General stated that "several statements made by the parties, together with the intensifying hostilities, effectively ended any hope for the resumption of the implementation of the provisions of the Lusaka Protocol in the foreseeable future".

According to the report, "the root causes of this deeply regrettable state of affairs are well known. They lie in UNITA's refusal to comply with basic provisions of the Lusaka Protocol which demanded that it demilitarise its forces and allow State administration to be extended throughout the national territory".

Secretary General's recommendations

The Secretary General suggested that "upon the expiration of MONUA's mandate on 26 February 1999, the United Nations would then proceed with its [MONUA's] technical liquidation".

Kofi Annan states that if the present pace of redeployment is maintained, all MONUA site teams and regional headquarters will have been withdrawn to Luanda by mid-February. He envisages that most of the military, police and civilian personnel of MONUA will be repatriated by 20 March. The complete repatriation process is estimated to take up to six months.

Despite recommending that MONUA be dismantled, Kofi Annan states that "the UN and the international community should not and must not turn its back on Angola and the Angolan people".

He insisted that the UN should persist in efforts to assist Angolans to find the earliest possible resolution to the conflict. In view of this he suggests that a Special Envoy be appointed, based in New York.

He also promotes keeping a full humanitarian assistance programme in place, and the continuation of the UN human rights team - although whether this function should continue to be housed in the military framework of MONUA or moved to the UCAH / humanitarian section is being debated.

The current situation is highly embarrassing to the United Nations, having spent $1.5 billion on operations in Angola which have failed to bring Jonas Savimbi into the peace process. According to The Guardian newspaper, published in London on 19 January, the report by Kofi Annan "is an admission that the UN has had its most serious failure in Africa since the Congo debacle in the 1960's". The Guardian continues that "for seven years the peacekeepers have, in effect, been a shield behind which UNITA troops have been able to hide and re-arm".

Angolan parties consider attitude to UN

Despite the reservations the Angolan government has over the United Nations role, it is unlikely that it would oppose a new mandate based on humanitarian assistance and human rights monitoring. ...

The UN Secretary General reported that "in a note verbale dated 21 December 1998, the Minister of Territorial Administration advised my Special Representative to concentrate all MONUA personnel in Luanda "given the renewal of military hostilities and the fact that MONUA observers were no longer monitoring" the situation on the ground, and to gradually repatriate them, since the Angolan Government did not envisage the extension of the mandate of the Mission beyond February 1999".

On 22 December the Angolan Government's Council of Ministers' Standing Commission complained of the "passive and complacent manner in which the international community witnessed UNITA's repeated failures to adhere to the Lusaka Protocol, despite complaints made at the appropriate time".

The declaration also stated that it "finds it difficult to understand that thousands of UN observers deployed in Angola ... never realised what was happening, especially when they endorsed UNITA's formal declaration issued in mid-1998 to the effect that it had disarmed and demilitarised its forces completely".

The statement went on to regret that "the UN Security Council acts as if it is using double standards to evaluate similar situations. On the one hand, the Security Council uses punitive military retaliation against those who disregard its resolutions and, on the other, as seen in the case of Angola, it systematically gives the benefit of the doubt and new opportunities for dialogue to the transgressor who has been identified repeatedly and clearly". ...

UN talks of tougher sanctions

Despite the UN Secretary General's stated intention of winding up MONUA, the UN Security Council is considering imposing new sanctions on UNITA and tightening those sanctions which are currently in place but generally flouted.

In his report to the UN Security Council, Kofi Annan suggests that it consider authorising the commission of an expert study on possible ways of tracing violations of sanctions.

He also states that he is to report to the Security Council on the possible suspension of UNITA's telecommunications. This move was mooted by the Security Council in its resolution (S/RES/1221) on 12 January 1999. However, a number of countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom have publicly come out against sanctions on telecommunications, arguing that they are impractical and would be against free speech.

In January 1999 a new Chair has been appointed to the UN Sanctions Committee. The Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Robert Fowler, has expressed a genuine interest and will to implement the existing sanctions. However, the Secretary General's report underlines the weakness of the sanctions. He admits that the "responsibility for the implementation of these measures rests with Member States".

Despite the fact that such sanctions are mandatory, the UN Sanctions Committee set up to report on sanctions against UNITA neither has a budget to investigate sanctions busting, nor any power to take action against transgressors.

Thousands flee as UNITA sweeps towards cities

Hundreds of thousands of Angolans have fled to government controlled cities in the face of an all-out assault by the UNITA rebel movement. Food and essential medical supplies are running out in the cities of Huambo, Cuito and Malanje following the influx of terrified refugees.

According to a World Food Programme estimate, there are 70,000 refugees in Malanje; 80,000 in Huambo; and 55,000 in Cuito. A recent survey in Malanje indicated that ten per cent of the local population were suffering from malnutrition. Most of the refugees fled with few possessions, and the situation is deteriorating rapidly.

World Food Programme flights in Angola were suspended at the end of December after the first UN transport plane was shot down after leaving Huambo (see separate story). All flights into Cuito airport were stopped due to the shelling of the city, although the airport reopened on 4 January. Roads into Huambo and Cuito have been cut by the intense fighting.

Until WFP flights were suspended, the UN organisation was making 20 flights every week, taking 350 tonnes on each flight. WFP resumed its flights on 13 January, taking food to the towns of Luena, Uige/Negage, Ndalantando, Benguela, Lubango, Menongue, N'Zaji and Saurimo. ...

In another important development, the UN Deputy Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Martin Griffiths arrived in Luanda on 14 January to assess future humanitarian operations. The need for a commitment by all forces to respect humanitarian aid operations was highlighted in the UN Secretary General's report, which warned of the need to "allow unrestricted access to affected populations, including potential cross-line and cross-border operations".

The future in Angola looks bleak, as December saw the beginning of the harvesting season. Crops will rot if farmers have fled to government-controlled towns. It will soon be time to sow next season's crops.

UNITA shifts attacks to north

In recent weeks the rebel-army of Jonas Savimbi has moved its attention to the north of Angola following its failure to take control of the strategically and historically important cities of Huambo and Cuito.

At the beginning of December UNITA launched a heavy attack on the two cities in the Central Highlands, using newly acquired tanks and armoured personnel carriers (see APM no.4 vol V). The offensive on the two cities has now been stopped and UNITA troops have been pushed back out of firing range.

For a period the rebels were using medium range artillery to shell the two cities. Cuito was particularly badly hit, suffering shelling for 25 days. More than 150 people were killed and 500 injured by the shelling.

However, a government army (FAA) counter-offensive has pushed the rebels away from the cities. The safety zone around Huambo is now between 48 and 64 km and FAA has retaken the key town of Tchikala-Tchilohanga (formerly known as Vila Nova). The town, one of UNITA's key bases, lies close to the crossroads at Bela Vista, which leads to Bailundo. Heavy fighting has continued over this strategically important area.

FAA have also retaken Chiloda, Cantao, Catama and Chipeta - which are near Cuito. Cunhinga, 30km from Cuito is under FAA control. FAA report that it has destroyed a UNITA base at Ceilunga, 15 km north east of Cuito.

Military sources in Luanda claim that three key UNITA special forces units were destroyed in the battle for Cuito. Rumours are circulating that the head of UNITA's rebel forces, General Bock, has been demoted following the defeat.

In the north of the country UNITA forces have been advancing towards the town of Soyo and the capital of Zaire Province - Mbanza Congo. UNITA has been attacking Dundo, Lucapa and Camissobo in Lunda Norte province. The Angolan government alleges that UNITA plans to destroy the hydroelectric dam at Luachimo, which supplies electricity to Chitato, Cambulo, Lucapa and Dundo.

Malanje city has been under heavy bombardment by UNITA, and hundreds have been killed and injured. It is reported that there is a severe shortage of blood supplies. Much of Malanje province is under rebel control, with reports that the rebels have set up a base at Cazundo, 8 km from Malanje city.

In Luena, Moxico province, the safety perimeter around the town has shrunk to 10-15 km following UNITA attacks. In Benguela province, fighting has been centred over the town of Balombo, where thousands of refugees have fled from UNITA. More than 5,000 people have recently fled to Caxito in Bengo province from Cuanza Norte. The number of refugees in the town is now 23,000

There have been reports that in the far south, UNITA is re-occupying bases along the Namibian-Angolan border which it had abandoned following the signing of the Lusaka Peace Accords in 1994.

UNITA arsenal unveiled

The recent fighting in Angola has brought to light the full scale of the weapons at UNITA's disposal.

The fighting around Cuito revealed for the first time that UNITA were in possession of T-55 tanks. These tanks, made in the Ukraine, were operated by Ukrainian mercenaries. Sources in FAA estimate that 90 tanks were brought into Andulo and Bailundo by air. It has been independently confirmed that UN observers in Andulo were not allowed to monitor the nightly flights into the town's airstrip. Some commentators have questioned the acceptability of monitors being so severely restricted, and compared the situation unfavourably with the response to restrictions placed on UN personnel in Iraq. ...

There have been persistent allegations, though so far unproven, that weapons have been transhipped through Uganda. The UN news agency, IRIN, reported on 21 December that a London-based Angolan specialist claimed that "arms for UNITA have been going through Kampala for a very long time, organised by South African arms dealers. Whether there is any actual support for UNITA by (President) Museveni is unknown."

Attention has recently focussed on allegations that Zambian officials have also been involved - allegations which are strenuously denied.

UNITA divisions widen

Divisions have widened between the three groups of UNITA supporters in Angola - Jonas Savimbi's militarist wing, Euginio Manuvakola's UNITA-Renovada, and Abel Chivukuvuku's supporters amongst UNITA's parliamentarians.

UNITA-Renovada has claimed authority over the UNITA parliamentary group through its control of UNITA's Provisional Directorate. On 24 December it suspended the former leader of the UNITA parliamentary group, Abel Chivukuvuku, on the grounds of "obstructionist behaviour". The Provisional Directorate also suspended UNITA parliamentarians Isaias Samakuva, Daniel Jose Domingos and Celestino Capapelo.

UNITA-Renovada broke away from Jonas Savimbi in September 1998. Since then there has been a power struggle between it and the majority of the UNITA parliamentarians. Most of them continue to support Abel Chivukuvuku and object to the imposition of Eugenio Manuvakola as their titular leader. ...

Diamond mining hit

UNITA has admitted to murdering four workers at the diamond mine being run by Ashton Mining on 6 January. Two Angolan security guards, and a British and a Brazilian mining official were killed in an ambush near the mining town of Luzamba.

DiamondWorks, whose Yetwene mine was attacked by UNITA on 8 November, during which 8 people died and 10 others were kidnapped, is said to be losing $2 million a month as a result of the attack.

The government's diamond company, Endiama, has admitted that the war is holding back diamond production. ... Endiama estimates that diamond production in 1998 amounted to $430 million, but only $180 million were generated by the formal sector.

European Union condemns UNITA

Both the European Union and the European Parliament have blamed UNITA for the present war in Angola, and are taking steps against the rebel organisation.

A European Union presidential statement on 28 December expressed its "grave concern" at the deteriorating situation in Angola. The statement said that UNITA has "unjustifiably failed to demilitarise its forces and facilitate the extension of state administration throughout the national territory". The European Parliament on 13 January passed a resolution calling, inter alia, for a "thorough and urgent investigation by the European Commission into the conduct of the diamond trade with a view to eliminating smuggling by UNITA to fund its war effort".

The resolution "condemns firmly the resumption of war" and states its belief that "there can be no military solution to the conflict". However, it points out that "UNITA bears the main responsibility for this grave setback in the peace process".

Jonas Savimbi denounced as a "murderous dictator"

Jonas Savimbi's biographer, British journalist Fred Bridgland, has launched an extraordinary attack on the man he once called "a key to Africa", declaring him to be a "murderous dictator". The attack is even more notable, considering Bridgland was once known by his detractors as "Savimbi's press attache".

Speaking at a packed meeting, hosted by the British Angola Forum at the Royal Institute for International Affairs' Chatham House, Bridgland focussed his talk on the murder of Tito Chingunji and his closest relatives.

Tito Chingunji came from a well respected UNITA family, and rose to be Jonas Savimbi's senior international spokesperson. Bridgland met Chingunji for the first time in 1975, and over the years they became close friends.

However, in 1988 Chingunji met with Bridgland and told him that he had learnt that Savimbi had ordered the killing of his mother and father, four brothers and sister. According to Chingunji, his parents were killed in 1979; David Chingunji was shot in 1970; Samuel was poisoned in 1974; Estevao shot in 1976; Paulo died in an unexplained motor accident in 1977.

Furthermore, several senior UNITA leaders outside the Chingunji family, including Jorge Sangumba, the first UNITA "foreign secretary"; Valdemar Chindondo, UNITA's military chief-of-staff at the time; and UNITA commander Major Aurelius Katalayo had been murdered on Savimbi's orders. Tito Chingunji and several more of his relatives were murdered in July 1991.

In a telling passage, Bridgland stated that "executions, tortures, forced marriages and abuse of women were almost the least of Savimbi's excesses. He also began burning women and children to death in public".

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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