Angola + 1 more

Angola/Namibia: Clerics meet president

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JOHANNESBURG, 10 February (IRIN) - A group of Namibian church leaders held talks this week with President Sam Nujoma about tensions along the northern border following the government's decision to let Angolan government forces use Namibian territory in their drive to oust UNITA rebels from their strongholds in southern Angola.
The independent daily, 'The Namibian' said they had told Nujoma that security in the border area was deteriorating, following a series of hit-and-run attacks in recent weeks blamed on UNITA. The church leaders said they had decided to act because peace in Namibia would remain fragile unless Angola was calm. They added that they could no longer watch the war in Angola with folded arms.

"We are disturbed that our government appears to have joined those who opted for the military option as the main means to end the civil war," the church leaders said in a joint statement. "But this option does not appear to bring peace to Angola, but rather the war to Namibia."

The church leaders said war "cannot be the main solution", and urged that the Angolan armed forces' successes against UNITA be used as leverage for negotiations. They said UNITA should be included in any peace negotiations or the rebel movement would continue disrupting peace.

Nujoma reportedly encouraged the church leaders to promote dialogue among the warring parties, by talking to the churches in Angola, the newspaper said. The church leaders suggested to Nujoma that if the war continues unabated villagers should organise themselves in close units "that are easier to defend than scattered homesteads".

They also proposed that security committees be set up to monitor the situation. "We are speaking in such practical terms because we see the urgent need that everything should be done to regain control of the area and contain the spilling over of the war into Namibia."

[ENDS]

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