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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, VI, 2

Angola: Peace Monitor, VI, 2
Date Distributed (ymd): 991029
Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
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 machinations."


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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 October.

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 Angolan people.

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 stabilised".

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 military escort.


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 machinations".

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, e-mail,
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 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.

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