UNITA Rebels Demobilize, Unify

News and Press Release
Originally published
LUANDA, Angola (AP) -- Five former UNITA rebel generals reported to the capital Monday to take up posts in a new unified army alongside one-time opponents in Angola's two-decade civil war.

Among the five was UNITA's chief of staff, Arlindo Chenda Pena, who will be second in command under the government's chief of staff, Gen. Joao de Matos.

The rebel demobilization is part of a 1994 U.N.-brokered peace agreement that ended fighting between the government and UNITA, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola.

Under U.N. pressure to end an impasse in the peace process, UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi has promised to send his key generals to the capital and turn over heavy weapons before Sept. 20.

He also pledged to round up 10,000 UNITA fighters who deserted from U.N. demobilization camps, where nearly all of the group's 62,500 soldiers have been quartered.

UNITA went to war with government forces on the eve of independence from Portugal in 1975. The longest civil war in Africa has claimed more than 500,000 lives and left the once prosperous economy in a shambles.

Savimbi and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos are expected to meet later this month to discuss final steps toward a unified army and coalition government. The objectives are about two months behind schedule.

=A9 Copyright 1996 The Associated Press