Angola

Angola: UNITA calls for renewed contact with government

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JOHANNESBURG, 19 February (IRIN) - Dialogue between Angola's former rebel group and the government has stalled since the closure of the Joint Commission (JC) in November last year, a senior UNITA official said on Wednesday.
"Since the Joint Commission ended its work there has been no contact between the government and ourselves. The reintegration of thousands of UNITA soldiers [into civil society] still has not been addressed sufficiently. For the MPLA [ruling party] it seems as if peace was just about killing [Jonas] Savimbi and disarming UNITA soldiers," UNITA secretary for foreign affairs, Alcides Sakala, told IRIN.

Negotiations on the conclusion of the peace process in Angola took place within the framework of the JC, a UN-brokered body constituted in terms of the re-activated 1994 Lusaka Protocol.

The JC was chaired by Ibrahim Gambari, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, and included representatives from the government, UNITA and the troika of observer states: Portugal, Russia and the United States.

Sakala said living conditions in camps housing former UNITA soldiers and their families had deteriorated. The latest figures show that some 100,000 former soldiers and their families continue to live in 35 gathering sites across the country.

"If the government does not speed up the process of providing adequate assistance to soldiers and their families we could see many of the soldiers just leaving the camps. This could lead to a possible increase in crime and banditry all over the country, especially in the urban areas. The government must start talking to UNITA about its plans," Sakala said.

Although an interim body had been set up to facilitate dialogue between the government and UNITA, very little had been done, Sakala said.

[ENDS]

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