Jonas Savimbi, leader of the Angolan rebel movement, UNITA, has been personally accused of ordering the shooting down of two UN aircraft in central Angola just over a year ago, according to videotaped evidence presented to the UN Security Council this week.
The evidence was presented by Canadian Ambassador Robert Fowler, who chairs the UN Sanctions Committee on Angola. In the presentation, a UNITA defector said Savimbi had ordered that the planes be shot down, and then buried. Another defector said rebels had standing orders to shoot down any aircraft flying over their territory, and to destroy all traces of human remains. The aircraft were hit with surface-to-air missiles on 26 December 1998 and 2 January 1999. No survivors were found.
Fowler said the interviews had been conducted privately without the presence of Angolan government officials.
ANGOLA: Russian airman reported missing
The Russian Embassy in Angola is investigating the disappearance of a Russian national, Vitaly Martynyuk, lost in Angola several days ago after an AN-26 cargo plane was reported missing in northwest Angola, Itar-Tass reported on Wednesday.
It said Martynyuk had not been registered at the Russian Embassy as visiting Angola and that his plight had become known "long after" the incident. The dispatch gave no further details other than say a search for the aircraft by Angolan military helicopters had yielded no results so far. "Angolan sources have presumed that the plane might have been shot down by UNITA militants or hijacked abroad," the news agency said.
NAMIBIA: Opposition concerned about Angolan war
The opposition in Namibia gave notice in the country's National Assembly on Tuesday that it would table an urgent motion to discuss the country's involvement in the Angolan conflict.
'The Namibian' quoted the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) leader, Katuutire Kaura, as saying that he would table the motion next week that would allow for a discussion in the National Assembly on Namibia's involvement in the Angolan war and the recent attacks on Namibian civilians and foreign tourists visiting the northern Kavango and Caprivi areas. Kaura said that his party was worried by the government's failure to consult parliament on its decision to allow Angolan government troops to launch attacks against the UNITA rebel movement from within Namibia.
The DTA also said that while the government maintained that the situation was under control, this was in direct contrast to what was happening on the ground. It added that it was "in that dark" about a recent announcement that the area between Rundu and the western Caprivi be treated as a "war zone."
ZAMBIA: Mine sale facing delays
The sale of the Zambian copper mines to the giant South African mining house, Anglo American, is unlikely to go ahead until February because of delays in securing financing and possible staff retrenchments, news reports said on Wednesday.
Anglo American and the Zambian government had originally set a 31 January deadline for the deal. Under the proposed deal Anglo would take an 80 percent stake in three major mining operations which are owned by Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). Konkola, Nchanga and Nampundwe account for an estimated 70 percent of Zambia's total copper production.
"From evidence available, the conclusion date cannot be January 31," a senior ZCCM official told Reuters. "There are a few pending issues...A date in late February is the target."
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