Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!
Print this page
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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived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, VI, 2
Angola: Peace Monitor, VI, 2
Date Distributed (ymd): 991029
Document reposted by APIC
Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
This issue of the Angola Peace Monitor
reports on Angolan government military advances which have
pushed UNITA out of the key centers of Andulo and Bailundo. It
also summarizes a new report from the U.S. Institute of Peace
which stresses the need for new efforts for peace and internal
government reform as well as vigorous enforcement of sanctions
against UNITA. The report, by former National Security Council
staffer John Prendergast, also calls for new international
pressure "on Savimbi to remove himself from active UNITA
leadership," and warns against "misplaced advocacy for direct
talks with him ... that will only fuel his further
Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no. 2, Vol. VI 26th October 1999
UNITA concedes loss of Andulo and Bailundo
An Angolan army counter-offensive has pushed the rebel UNITA
movement of Jonas Savimbi from its strongholds in the central
highlands of Angola, immediately bringing some relief to the
hundreds of thousands of people who had fled to government
controlled cities for safety. The threat of mass starvation in
the cities of Malange, Kuito and Huambo has receded as
supplies have begun to get through, although there is still a
desperate need for humanitarian aid to continue.
The government formally announced on 20 October that the army,
FAA, had taken control of the two most important UNITA bases,
at Bailundo and Andulo. UNITA, which had previously denied
that the government had taken over Bailundo and had claimed
that the FAA offensive was a failure, have now admitted that
the towns have fallen. As late as 13 October UNITA was
claiming that the offensive was unsuccessful. The UNITA
representative in Belgium, Azevedo Kanganje, was quoted in the
London-based journal Southscan as saying that "FAA deployed a
lot of forces, including 500 tanks, supported by aircraft but
did not reach this target which they promised to conquer in
one week. With the rains pouring down, we can say that
Operacao Restauro has failed, like the previous offensives".
However, an Angolan radio journalist, Jaime Azulay, of the
Luanda Antena Comercial radio station, reported from Bailundo
that the town had been wrecked, but that it was "not a matter
of mass destruction as reported elsewhere".
On 21 October Angolan television showed pictures of the FAA
chief of staff, General Joao de Matos, in Andulo. Film
apparently showed that much of Andulo was undamaged, including
Jonas Savimbi's "White Palace".
Sources indicate that despite UNITA bringing some of its most
experienced troops back to Andulo from the siege of Malange
for a final defence of the town, the government advance was so
powerful that the town was evacuated. Senior military sources
have indicated that UNITA evacuated Andulo without any heavy
fighting in the immediate area. The sources state that a large
amount of war materiel was abandoned by the rebels, including
heavy artillery guns and vehicles. Among the possessions
abandoned was Jonas Savimbi's Mercedes limousine. One reliable
security analyst has informed the Angola Peace Monitor that
many UNITA troops have been captured, with the rest being
dispersed in a disorderly evacuation.
However, other reports state that UNITA has moved in large
numbers with their weaponry to Moxico province in the east of
the country. The government has managed to dislodge UNITA in
the central highlands, but fighting is continuing throughout
the country. The coming months will show whether UNITA has
managed to evacuate from the area intact, or whether its
military capacity has been severely blunted.
Many other smaller, but key, UNITA-held towns have been
recaptured by FAA, including Kalandula, Kangamba, Kalussinga,
Londuimbale, Luacano, Luao, Lumbala-Nguimbo, Tempwe, Mussende
and Nharea. The radio station LAC has also stated that FAA
captured another strategically important town, Mungo, early in
One of the key factors in the turning of military fortunes was
the importation of new weaponry. The recovery in oil prices,
from a low of $9 to over $20 a barrel, along with important
signature bonuses from oil companies temporarily lessened the
government's financial crisis, enabling it to buy
sophisticated weapons. Human Rights Watch has recently
detailed Angola's purchase of new artillery equipment,
aircraft, helicopters and tanks.
Sources quoted by the UN news agency IRIN, suggest that UNITA
will be forced to abandon its conventional military capacity,
involving the use of tanks and long-range artillery, and
revert to guerrilla tactics to continue the suffering of the
A senior UNITA figure, Alcides Sakala, interviewed by Reuters,
warned that the Angolan capital of Luanda would be a top
military target for UNITA.
However, official sources suggest that the government is
continuing with its offensive, particularly in the north and
east of the country. One senior source stated that FAA has
control over much of Moxico province, which borders Zambia and
the Democratic Republic of Congo. Recently it took control of
several towns in the area, and there are reports that FAA has
surrounded the strategic UNITA base at Cazombo.
Whilst the government gains in the centre of the country has
lifted its confidence, the question remains of what UNITA's
strategy will be following the government counter-offensive,
and whether the rebels have kept their capacity to control
large areas of the country.
Transport links reopening cautiously
Road and air links with the besieged cities of Malange, Huambo
and Kuito are re-opening as UNITA has been forced away from
the areas. According to reports from aid agencies, people are
still cautious about using the roads due to the threat of
attack and of landmines. It is also not yet clear what was the
scale of civilian casualties and physical damage directly by
the latest fighting.
However, the opening of roads, and increased security around
the airports has eased the threat of mass starvation that at
one point was hovering, over Malange in particular, according
to aid agencies.
The worst affected city has been Malange, which was blockaded
by UNITA and regularly shelled. According to a report on 12
October by the United Nations news agency, IRIN, "although the
crisis is far from over, there are signs of a recovery in the
town. According to a September survey - after a month of food
distribution to over 300,000 war-affected people - the
malnutrition rate in the city was around 22 percent: Bad, but
better than the results of a government assessment in June
that put the figure at 32 percent".
The report states that; following the government
counter-offensive in mid-September, people who had fled to
Luanda are beginning to return to the town, and commercial
vehicles are travelling from the capital to the city. "The
city is starting to live again," an aid official working in
Malange told IRIN, although the situation "has not yet
One of the major immediate problems facing the population is
that there is not enough land to farm. Although the government
has increased the secure area around the city, there is still
not enough safe land available, with the planting season
already underway. Humanitarian assistance will continue to be
vital for many more months.
A further problem facing peasants is that they face the threat
of being killed by landmines as they return to their land.
Thousands of mines have been laid since the resumption of war,
with the government laying mines in rings around the besieged
cities, and UNITA laying mines to disrupt transport and
farming. The Angolan news agency, ANGOP, reported on 12
October that 39 people were killed in Malange province over a
five-day period. The agency blamed UNITA for laying the mines.
The report stated that on 9 October in Kangandala, 26 people
were killed when a tractor taking them to work hit an
anti-tank mine. On 6 October another 13 citizens were killed
in similar circumstances.
A report by the official US aid agency USAID, on 8 October
states that the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) has reported that although cases of malnutrition are
still seen in Huambo, the level no longer seems to be
increasing, except in some outlying districts.
However, this analysis is not shared by the World Food
Programme, which has been stepping up its food aid
distribution. IRIN on 19 October quoted the WFP representative
in Angola, Francesco Strippoli, as stating that "my general
feeling is that the situation is deteriorating faster than
food can be put into Huambo".
Mines continue to pose a threat to the population. On 13
October a lorry operated by the ICRC detonated an anti-tank
mine near the city. Reports suggest that the mine had been
displaced due to heavy rain.
On 15 October the highway linking the city with the port of
Benguela, which had been closed since July, was reopened. Up
to 100 lorries, which had been stuck in the city, left under
Up to 10,000 people fled to Kuito from the Catabola region to
the east as UNITA attempted to divert government troops from
their push on Andulo. WFP has responded by increasing their
supplies to the city, despite the airport being closed from 27
September to 1 October for repairs. Reports suggest that the
food security situation in Kuito is more stable than in
Malange or Huambo.
UNITA lawmakers released, journalist detained
Four parliamentarians arrested in January 1999 were released
on 14 October on the orders of the criminal chamber of the
Supreme Court, because of a lack of evidence against them.
The four, Carlos Candanda, Vicente Vihemba, Manuel Saviemba,
and Carlos Alberto Calitas, were accused of complicity in
"terrorist attacks against defenceless populations". There is
speculation that the four will rejoin the rest of the UNITA
deputies currently sitting in the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Rafael Marques, an employee of the Open Society
Foundation, was arrested on 16 October, allegedly on the
grounds of having slandered the Angolan President in an
article on 3 July. Some commentators have linked his arrest
with his work for the Angolan Group for Reflection on Peace
(GARP). The international NGO, Human Rights Watch, has issued
an urgent appeal for his release.
UN to open office in Luanda
The United Nations Security Council voted on 15 October (SCR
1268/1999) to establish a United Nations Office in Angola
(UNOA) for an initial six month period.
The office is expected to consist of around thirty
professional staff, as well as administrative support. The
office will "liaise with the political, military, police and
other civilian authorities, with a view to exploring effective
measures for restoring peace, assisting the Angolan people in
the area of capacity-building, humanitarian assistance, the
promotion of human rights, and coordinating other activities".
Meanwhile, the Expert Panels of the UN Sanctions Committee
have continued to collect evidence of UNITA's evasion of
international embargoes. During October they visited Angola
and South Africa.
Following a four-day trip to Angola, panel expert Olivier
Vallee gave evidence to the South African parliament's
committee on foreign affairs on 22 October, where he stated
that, "we are sure that there are a lot of banks, including in
South Africa, that are involved in money laundering".
UNITA deny Savimbi wants a truce
There is confusion surrounding the authenticity of a letter
sent to Angola's President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos,
purportedly from rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. The letter, dated
27 September, called for an immediate truce as "the first
condition to resolving the present crisis in Angola".
The UNITA representative in Portugal, Rui Oliveira, on 7
October denied that Savimbi sent the letter. Speaking on the
Portuguese Radio Renascenca, Oliveira stated that it was
government propaganda, as were reports that the national army
was in control of UNITA's Bailundo headquarters.
Another UNITA representative in Portugal, Carlos Morgado, told
the LUSA news agency that "there is no such letter. It's a
fake, a propaganda trick," and was "a typical propaganda
tactic by the government to divert attention from its military
losses." It is unclear who wrote the letter, but the Angolan
government has repeatedly stated that it will not negotiate
with Jonas Savimbi again, following his failure to abide by
previous international brokered agreements.
US think-tank charts future strategy
The United States Institute of Peace, an influential
government-funded federal institution, on 12 October published
a report - Angola's Deadly War: Dealing with Savimbi's Hell on
Earth by John Prendergast.
The report points out the importance of Angola to the United
States: "because Angola provides 7 percent of US daily imports
of oil, a figure that could double in the next five years, the
United States has a direct national security interest in the
stability of the country". It also criticises the Angolan
government for widespread corruption and human rights abuses.
On the question of the future of Angola it states that: "given
the obstacles to immediately resuming negotiations to end the
war, a peace strategy must be supported, which could include
promoting quiet cross-line contacts, aggressively enforcing
sanctions against UNITA, and engaging with the government on
good governance, human rights, and institution building".
Commenting on the present conflict it argues: "As long as
UNITA is successful on the battlefield, political and military
challenges to Savimbi within UNITA will be minor. But if the
government's most recent offensive is successful, the
financial difficulties and internal divisions plaguing UNITA
may further erode support for Savimbi. If further efforts to
internationally isolate UNITA begin to work, the advantage of
time will return more clearly to the government."
A key section of the report deals with the future of Savimbi:
"Dissatisfied with election results in 1992, and again unhappy
with the end state called for in the Lusaka Protocol, Savimbi
has exercised his veto with extreme prejudice. He has twice
gone back to war and halted tentative transitions. The
international community should search for ways to bring
pressure to bear on Savimbi to remove himself from active
UNITA leadership. Misplaced advocacy for direct talks with him
or offers to mediate between him and the government provide a
forum to Savimbi that will only fuel his further
Minister of Mines dies
Angola's Minister of Mines and Geology, Manuel Bunjo, died on
20 October in Luanda of heart failure. He was a member of
UNITA-Renovada and took up his ministerial position as part of
the obligations of the Lusaka Protocol.
New Oil Find In Angola
The oil companies Elf Exploration Angola and Sonangol have
announced a new oil find in Block 17 off the coast of the
country. The Cravo-1 well is located over a kilometre
underwater. The new well produced 12,800 barrels of crude with
34 degrees API density during initial tests.
Elf Exploration Angola, a subsidiary of Elf Aquitaine of
France, has a 35- percent share in the consortium exploring
the field. Esso Exploration Angola has 20 percent, BP
Exploration Angola - 16.67 percent, Den Norske Stats
Oljeseskap - 13.33 percent, Hydro Asa - 10 percent and
Totalfina and Fina Exploration - 5 percent.
Diamond giant stops Angolan purchases
The world's dominant diamond purchaser De Beers, announced on
5 October that it would no longer buy any Angolan diamonds,
wherever they are sold, even if they are accompanied by an
Angolan certificate of origin. The decision follows
international efforts to end revenues from diamonds reaching
UNITA coffers. The only Angolan diamonds it will accept in
future are those diamonds De Beers was contractually obliged
to purchase from SDM, a joint venture operation by the Angolan
government and Ashton mining.
The announcement has been warmly welcomed internationally,
including the Angolan government and the British government.
British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain said the decision
was "excellent news" and hoped that others would follow.
The campaign organisation Global Witness welcomed the move,
but stated that "this is a short-term solution to a long-term
problem. We would like to know what concrete measures they
intend to put in place."
World Food Programme denies UNITA allegations
The World Food Programme has reacted angrily to allegations by
the rebel UNITA movement that its fuel and food have been
diverted to FAA.
The WFP deputy executive director, Namanga Ngongi, stated on
8 October that "the operations of the World Food Programme are
entirely transparent and accounted for".
There have been incidents in which members of Angola's
security forces have stolen food from aid agencies by.
However, the Angolan government is moving to build its
relationship with humanitarian aid agencies. It has agreed to
assign FAA Civil-Military Liaison Officers to coordinate with
the UNDP Security Liaison Officers. According to USAID, a FAA
officer in Malange has already responded to a theft of food
from a WFP warehouse and facilitated the return of the food.
UN accuses UNITA of drug dealing
According to a senior United Nations official, quoted by
Reuters on 13 October, "we have reason to believe that cocaine
from producer nations like Columbia is being smuggled to
southern Angola's border with Namibia via Brazil" in exchange
for stolen vehicles and weapons from South Africa.
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: http://www.anc.org.za/angola
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary
objective is to widen international policy debates around
African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide
range of groups and individuals.