Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
This posting of the latest issue of the Angola Peace Monitor notes further steps towards implementation of the peace treaty in Angola. It warns, however, that UNITA leader Savimbi has again avoided personal commitment to the process and is still preserving UNITA's capacity to make war.
Paper exercise nears completion
Progress has been reported in recent weeks in the carrying out of the revised "final" timetable for completing the outstanding tasks of the Lusaka Protocol (1), the agreement underpinning the present peace process in Angola. But there has been no progress towards resolving the key task of the rebel-movement, UNITA, seriously transforming itself into a non-military organisation.
The Angolan government, UNITA and the United Nations had agreed that the "final" timetable would be completed by 28 February. However none of the tasks in this timetable were met, and on 11 March were rescheduled for completion by 1 April. The failure by UNITA to meet the 28 February deadline was deplored by the UN, but no action was taken against them.
During the month of March several of these remaining tasks have been carried out. Paradoxically, there are signs that the completion of the current peace process is in fact bringing Angola closer to a return to war.
The revised timetable was drafted by the UN Observer Mission in Angola, MONUA, and had been set for completion by 15 March. However, UNITA rejected this timetable and had it extended to 1 April. It is understood from a source in the Joint Commission (2) that this extension was demanded by UNITA so that it could avoid further sanctions being placed on it by the UN Security Council who passed resolution 1157 on 20 March.
Savimbi refuses to sign UNITA declaration
On 6 March, following delays and procrastination, UNITA formally declared that it had demobilised its troops. In a compromise with the Angolan government, this was done on the understanding that the few remaining registered troops, the senior UNITA generals and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi's detachment of 400 bodyguards would be demobilised by mid-March. The declaration was signed by UNITA vice-president General Antonio Dembo. This has caused observers to question the motives of Jonas Savimbi. They recall that the Lusaka Protocol was signed by UNITA secretary General Eugenio Manuvakola. Following the signing ceremony Manuvakola was arrested by Savimbi's guards and detained until his escape in August last year.
On 16 March it was announced that Manuvakola had been expelled from UNITA. In a recent interview he stated that the present peace process "is becoming ridiculous" and that Savimbi's attitude "is ridiculous". It is feared that Savimbi may blame Dembo for any consequences of the declaration as a means of retaining his personal support base among UNITA's grassroots.
A formal ceremony took place in Bailundo on 19 March marking the demobilisation of senior UNITA military figures, including Generals Bock, Numa, and Chimuco. In total 193 generals and senior officers were expected to be demobilised.
The security detachment of Jonas Savimbi was demobilised in Andulo on 18 March and reconstituted as an official entity. The 400 bodyguards are to be gradually reduced to 150 over nine months.
Despite formally demobilising, UNITA has not returned its best generals and troops to civilian life. It is almost universally accepted that UNITA has maintained its elite fighting units, and has over 20,000 soldiers.
According to a recent high level UNITA defector, Colonel Benguela, "there is no coherence between the words and actions of UNITA leaders, especially Jonas Savimbi" because UNITA "has still kept intact its equipment and artillery, as well as its booby trap and explosives sections". He also revealed that UNITA "has a militarised structure all over the country".
Colonel Benguela is in a good position to expose UNITA's military capacity. He had acted as head of administration and logistics in Andulo, Bailundo and Chitundo prior to his desertion.
The United Nations is now in a position where it both accepts the UNITA declaration as genuine, whilst publicly acknowledging that it is untrue.
Extension of state administration
On 10 March MONUA issued a declaration concerning the demilitarisation of UNITA. Yet on 13 March the UN Secretary General reported to the UN Security Council (S/1998/236) that state administration had only been extended to 264 out of 335 localities. This is only 25 more localities than reported by the Secretary General on 8 January.
The Secretary General also reports that a security perimeter has been placed around Andulo, Bailundo and Mussende. Kofi Annan also confirmed "the discovery of numerous arms caches and the laying of new mines in Bie Province, which is attributed to UNITA elements". He also states that the number of deserters from UNITA demobilisation camps, totalling 27,291 soldiers, is a "cause of major concern".
The implication of the above is that the UN knows and accepts that UNITA maintains a military capacity.
Indeed, several areas previously handed over to state administration have recently been retaken by UNITA forces. In Moxico province UNITA troops attacked the villages of Lumbala Nguimbo and Cazombo and chased away government administrators.
According to Angola Television on 4 March, UNITA troops have occupied Cangola District, Uige province, and Caingo Commune, Maquela do Zombo District. Provincial police commander Alberto Jorge Antunes Jojo, estimates that 2,000 men were involved in these incidents. In Huambo province, UNITA troops raided Chilata village, stealing property and destroying homes. In Cuando Cubango province 18 police officers in Mavinga district were abducted on 5 March.
On 23 March 20 people were murdered in an attack blamed on UNITA soldiers in Cisseke, Benguela province. It has also been reported that there is a large scale movement of UNITA troops in Lunda Norte province.
UN helicopters fired upon
Two UN helicopters bringing UN and government officials to ceremonies marking the extension of state administration in Malanje province have been shot at by UNITA troops.
The Mig-8 helicopters were shot at on 24 March in the Cambundi Catembo area, which is still under UNITA control. There were no casualties in the incident. This incident follows a similar attack on 18 February on a UN helicopter in Malanje province. Helicopters have been used because the bridges over the Cando and Calomba rivers have been mined or destroyed by UNITA.
The Angolan government has also come under criticism for its actions in areas taken over from UNITA. Kofi Annan reported to the Security Council that the Angolan National Police have been criticised because "disarming operations have often been conducted with excessive force and without due regard to fundamental freedoms".
UNITA arms stockpiled
Further evidence has emerged that UNITA has stockpiled sophisticated weaponry both inside Angola and in other African countries.
Zambia has sent 500 government troops to the border with Angola to carry out a joint operation with the Angolan army, FAA. They will be investigating allegations that UNITA has stockpiled weapons in the area, and that UNITA has military bases in the country. They will also investigate allegations that UNITA has moved troops into Maheba and Mayukuyuku refugee camps, and that it is recruiting youngsters. The operation was announced by Zambian Foreign Minister, Keli Walubita.
Angola's ambassador to Zambia pointed out on 5 March that "the Zambian government has never been accused of supporting UNITA". However, he also stated that "we do not want to reach with Zambia the stage we reached with Congo Brazzaville and Congo Kinshasa, who were friends of UNITA".
According to the Mail and Guardian, the Zambian Air Force has been given orders to shoot down any aircraft violating Zambian airspace en route to Angola. Other reports state that air radar is to be deployed in the border areas.
An investigation by the Johannesburg-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has uncovered an arms trail from eastern Europe to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The ISS also states that Zambian officials are involved, in a private capacity, in smuggling arms to UNITA.
The London-based journal Southscan has published claims by Western intelligence sources that UNITA has 18,000 soldiers and 28 arms dumps in Angola. It claims that UNITA is receiving fresh supplies of weapons weekly from Togo, via Zambia. Southscan states that arms are stocked in President Gnassimgbe Eyadema's own village of Kara, guarded by 400 UNITA soldiers.
If the joint operation does close this supply route, UNITA will be more isolated that ever, having previously lost friendly regimes in the two Congos.
Meanwhile, there have been two large arms finds this month by the Angolan police and army. On 2 March FAA found an arms dump with 31 AKM weapons, 47 RPK submachine guns, RPG-7 rocket launchers, 60mm and 82mm mortars, mortar shells, 11 B-10 cannons, one missile, 60 anti-tank mines, 60 anti-personnel mines, 700 rounds of ammunition and 16kg of TNT. On 11 March police uncovered in Caxito, Bengo province, 47 machine guns, 66 anti-personnel mines, seven 60mm mortars and 3,000 rounds of ammunition.
On 11 March the Angolan government announced that UNITA was now a fully legal political party. In accordance with the Lusaka Protocol, this announcement followed the declaration by MONUA that UNITA had demilitarised, as it is illegal for any political party to have an armed wing.
President Jose Eduardo dos Santos announced on 16 March that the governors of Uige, Lunda Sul, and Cuando Cubango provinces had been relieved of their duties, and replaced by Joao Domingos Manzahila, Domingos Oliveira and Jose Cativa. This is to comply with the provisions of the Lusaka Protocol whereby UNITA are to nominate the governors of these three provinces.
The President also appointed the following deputy governors proposed by UNITA: Bernardo Prata, Americo Chimina, Moises Chivemba, Jose Soma Gaspar, Manuel Bunjo, Antonio Tonga and Campos Tomas, to Benguela, Huambo, Huila, Luanda, Cuanza Sul and Bengo provinces.
Savimbi receives special status
The Angolan government on 20 March announced that the UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi has been awarded the "Special Status" as leader of the opposition promised to him under the Lusaka Protocol.
This status will give him a salary, residencies, staff and access to government ministers.
Remaining Lusaka tasks
Few tasks remain to be formally carried out before the UN can declare that the tasks laid out by the Lusaka Protocol have been completed.
- UNITA's Radio Vorgan is due to end its broadcasts on 31 March, and is due to be replaced by the FM station, Radio Despertar.
- President dos Santos announced on 17 March that the Angolan government was waiting for UNITA to give them a list of candidates for the posts of Ambassador to Canada, Poland, Mexico, India, Cape Verde, UNESCO.
- The government has resumed disarming the civilian population, including in Luanda, where residents were armed in 1992 following clashes between the police and UNITA soldiers after UNITA rejected the election results.
However, the major task remaining to be completed is the resumption of state administration throughout the country. As noted above, much of the country continues to be either under the control of UNITA or effectively out of government control due to UNITA armed activity.
UNITA is due to hand over all the country, including the UNITA strongholds of Andulo, Bailundo and Jamba. In Andulo, UNITA is mining diamonds. It is rumoured that UNITA has an unofficial agreement that following the ending of the Lusaka peace process it will get a legal concession to continue mining in the region. However, this has not been finalised.
The other major obligation of the Lusaka Protocol is that UNITA must send its leadership to Luanda. This is due to happen on 1 April. Some commentators expect Jonas Savimbi to make a brief appearance before returning to his stronghold. However, others expect UNITA to yet again miss this "final" deadline. The UN Secretary General described UNITA's failure to meet the 28 February deadline as "largely due to the persistent delays and last minute conditions that have become a constant feature of UNITA tactics".
UN sanctions committee president visits Angola
On 21 March Njugana Mahugu, the President of the UN Sanctions Committee arrived in Luanda to review the implementation of sanctions against UNITA. On his arrival he stated that "I am here symbolically to show that the UN commission for sanctions against UNITA is very much alive, and that the UN Security Council is determined to implement these sanctions fully".
The official stated that if the situation warranted it, sanctions could be lifted. Equally, the Security Council could impose further sanctions if required.
The 14-nation Southern African Development Community on 2 March called for the tighter implementation of sanctions against UNITA. Following a SADC summit in Mozambique, the host President, Joaquim Chissano, stated that the situation in Angola was very bad, and that the peace process had been reversed because of UNITA.
UN preparing to leave
The Secretary General's report of 13 March outlined plans for MONUA to leave once the Lusaka process has been completed.
At present there are 1,045 UN military personnel in Angola. From 30 April this is due to be reduced. The withdrawal of the Blue Helmets is to be completed (except for one infantry company, the helicopter unit and the signals and medical support units) by 1 July 1998. Kofi Annan expects to keep the current 90 military observers in Angola until at least September/October, monitoring cease-fire violations and the discovery of arms caches.
Commentators point to the UN's desire to get out of Angola as the main reason why it is turning a blind eye to the military capacity of UNITA. Similarly, the Angolan government's formal acceptance of UNITA's declaration of demilitarisation is being seen by commentators as a way of opening the door for the government to treat UNITA troops as "bandits", and deal with them in "clean-up" operations.
Diplomatic sources privately confirm Washington and other Security Council members would now probably not stand in the way of government military action against UNITA strongholds still defying official demilitarisation and the return of territory to state administration.
Mandela to visit Angola
Following a visit to Angola by South African Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo on 13 March, it has been announced that South African president Nelson Mandela is due to visit Angola on 14 April.
Spain gives credit
Spain has announced that it is to give concessionary credit of $200 million to Angola. This is on top of the $400 million commercial credit to the country.
Large oil find off Angola
The US oil giant Exxon has announced a large oil discovery in block 15, some 360km northeast of Luanda. The find comes at a time when oil prices continue to fall. The find is estimated to be made up of three considerable oil wells, two of which are expected to produce 10,000 barrels per day.
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.
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