UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE
Edition #5 24 November 1997
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The long awaited "tÍte-++-tÍte" between the two main protagonists in Angola's conflict, president Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Unita chief Jonas Savimbi is finally going to take place, in the country's capital,Luanda, "if everything goes as planned".
In the statement which announced the meeting for "not earlier than 28 November," a presidential spokesman said that Savimbi had dropped his previous objections and accepted Luanda as the venue for the summit. To many observers, no matter what the reasons are for the sudden shift in the attitude of Jonas Savimbi, what is most important is that the talks could lead to a way out of the current crisis halting the completion of the ongoing peace process.
Both the pressures emerging from the recently adopted UNSC diplomatic and economic sanctions on UNITA, and a steady reluctance on the part of the government to hold the talks outside the capital, appear to have played roles in getting the rebel leader to "surrender" to the demands of his rival. According to President dos Santos, presently on a private visit to Brazil, the venue and other details were agreed on during a telephone conversation on November 10, and the final date for the talks will be set in early December upon his return home. However, there are those skeptic analysts who are of the opinion that judgingby past experience not much should be expected from these talks.
Four meetings have already occurred between the two leaders since the Lusaka peace agreement was signed on November 20 1994, and eight since the country's independence in 1975, but expectations raised from those meetings were short lived and have had no significant effects on the events in the country. The first time the two leaders met in direct negotiations to seek a solution to the conflict was in June 1989, at the Gbadolite village in former Zaire, an initiative of the then Zairean president, Mobutu Sese Seko. Eighteen African heads of state were present to witness a formal agreement that resulted after only 30 minutes of talks. And the pronouncements issued at the end by each of the two sides were completely contradictory. A few days later, the initiative was described as a new fiasco.
Talks that resumed later, with MPLA and UNITA negotiators, led to a new round of hand shaking on May 31 1991, in Lisbon, when both Dos Santos and UNITA declared to the entire world their "absolutely firm commitment to an effective peaceful settlement in Angola," and agreed on multiparty general elections, the first in the country's history. However, when UNITA lost the UN-supervised parliamentary elections in 1992, Savimbi fled Luanda bound for Huambo in the central highlands and ordered all his generals, then integrated into a unified army, to move back to the bush and take up arms again on allegations that the vote had been rigged. The vote had been endorsed by the United Nations as being "generally free and fair".
This move plunged the country back into fierce fighting for two years which are now regarded as the most violent in Angola's 20 years of conflict. Then, in 1994, after a protracted marathon of UN-brokered negotiations by senior MPLA and UNITA officials in different African capitals, a new cease-fire was declared with the Lusaka Protocol just hours after government forces recaptured Huambo following heavy fighting that went on for nearly two months.
On this occasion, Savimbi did not show up for the official signing ceremony of the Lusaka Accord, instead sending the movement's then secretary general, Eugenio Manuvakola, to do the job. President Dos Santos, because of this, entitled his foreign minister, Venancio de Moura, to sign the deal in Lusaka. After this, further direct talks between dos Santos and Savimbi occurred occasionally in Africa and Europe mainly to discuss solutions to the setbacks experienced in the peace process.However, the results were almost a constant round of promises and guarantees, made but never honoured.
This time, dos Santos doesn't seem interested in yet another "bear hug". He warned that he would only see Savimbi if UNITA made "significant progress in the implementation of the outstanding military tasks," describing this as a way of lending an adequate political climate for the success of the meeting. This will serve as a test for UNITA which, according to the UN, has suspended all its Lusaka accord obligations after sanctions were imposed on the movement by the Security council on October 30.
A spokesperson for the UN Angola mission said recently that UNITA had suspended both the process of normalizing state administration in the country and that of demilitarizing its force. "The quantity of soldiers demobilized so far is derisive and there has been an increase in tension and instability in the country over the last days with increased fears that this might get worse," said MONUA spokesman David Wimhurst.
In the face of this, one can only wait and wonder if the already announced Luanda meeting is really going to happen.
1. UN SUSPENDS DEMOBILIZATION FOLLOWING UNITA ATTACK ON PEACEKEEPER
The United Nations suspended its operations to demobilize scores of UNITA physically handicapped soldiers after a Zambian peacekeeper on duty at former UNITA headquarters in Jamba, southeast Angola, was beaten up by eight members of the movement.
A UN official described the attack as "unjustified" and said that the demobilization would remain suspended until the case was fully clarified. A commission of investigation formed by members of the UN Humanitarian Aid Coordinating Unit (UCAH) and UNITA is investigating the incident in which a UN World Food Programme worker was also attacked.
"It was a cowardly attack, without any provocation, against an unarmed man," said a UN spokesman in Luanda. "This scenario of violence is simply unacceptable. We are here to help in the peace process. These situations must not be repeated, this incident has to be the last one," he said.
The attack occurred on November 11, and the Zambian peacekeeper, the MONUA commander in the region, was immediately rushed to Luanda and hospitalized.
2. NCR LAUNCHES "PLASTIC MONEY"
Angola is soon to introduce the electronic payment system in a move expected to help curb mounting imbalances in internal monetary transactions. The project will be implemented by the Luanda branch of the NCR company which on November 13 conducted a seminar in Luanda to explain to officials of monetary institutions the importance and advantages of the system.
Experts in Luanda say that NCR, with 25 per cent of the African market in the distribution of the electronic payment systems, provided the market in 1996 with as many as 31 000 machines.
3. FRAUD, MISMANAGEMENT IN UN OPERATIONS
Serious financial and management irregularities in the UN Angola mission have resulted in big losses to the United Nations, according to a report recently published by the UN control service. The document says that there were cases of fraud, squandering and mismanagement of financial resources in the UN peacekeeping operations and aid to refugees, between July 1996 and June 1997, which amounted to losses estimated at US$ 288,980.
The report states that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees conducted an audit of 14 African countries, including Angola, which "revealed different types of gaps and chronic problems mostly resulting from the fact that the UNHCR does not control whether the funds are applied to the predicted aims".
According to the document, similar cases have also occurred with the UN aid mission to Rwanda (MINUAR,) and with the International Penal Court established in the Tanzanian city of Arusha.
4.MINISTER: LOCAL LANGUAGES NECESSARY IN EDUCATION SYSTEM
Education minister, Antonio Burity da Silva, has maintained the need to introduce vernacular languages in Angola's educational system, "despite the cultural diversity existing in each region".
He said while addressing a Luanda symposium on national culture recently, that local languages, being the vehicles of the culture, should deserve equal space, time and treatment on an educational level working towards an equilibrium between traditional and modern values.
The main vernacular languages of Angola are Kimbundo, Kicongo, Fiote (north), Umbundo(centre) and Tchokwe (east).
5.MEDIA URGED TO GIVE SPACE TO PUBLIC HEALTH
Angola is preparing to set up an "information and communication sub-committee for health," as the first step of a strategic plan aimed at promoting public health through local media.
In a recent workshop, organized jointly by the ministries of health and of social communication, it was recommended that the media devotes more space to the dissemination of "educative information on public health," to help the people of Angola acquire positive habits and attitudes towards the prevention of illnesses.
The main objective of the workshop was to encourage media to actively participate in the health education of the population and recommended the promotion of a health ministry spokesperson to help journalists obtain major access to information on the matter. Participants suggested that it was necessary to institute a yearly prize and other such incentives aimed at stimulating journalists into covering public health related events.
The workshop was sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund and the World Health Organization.
6.ANGOLA AFRICA'S BIGGEST OIL PRODUCER BY YEAR 2000
Angola is expected to raise its 750,000 oil barrels per day (bpd) output to a million bpd by the year 2,000, to become Africa's biggest crude oil producer.
At a meeting held recently in Luanda, the oil minister, Mrs Albina Assis said that in order to achieve the above score, a yearly 10 percent growth will be needed. It would also involve new oil strikes and optimization and recovery of old fields through more advanced technologies. She also said that such an effort will need to involve a strong role by the national oil society, SONANGOL, in taking "decisive steps" in onshore operations.
Britain has already announced plans to provide Angola with state of the art technology for operations in deep waters. According to the visiting British minister of energy, science and technology, Mr John Battle, there is strong interest by firms in the UK, particularly BP, in forging joint-ventures in Angola in the specific area of deep water operations.
7.TB HOSPITAL WITHOUT TOILETS
Scores of tuberculosis patients at the Luanda-based "Sanatorium" hospital have been without the use of toilets for more than two years because of undrained sewerage, health minister Anastacio Sicato recently confirmed during a short visit to the hospital.
According to the minister, the patients at the hospital have to use tins and plastic bags "which are then thrown outside into the enclosure of the building". Apart from the lack of facilities, and like almost all public hospitals in the country, there is also an almost total lack of food, tests materials and medicines for the treatment of the TB cases at the Sanatorium. Also, the buildings of the hospital are in appalling condition.
Many public health officials in Luanda have suggested that the hospital be shut down "because it is worsening the state of the patients rather than treating them". However, the minister promised that efforts would be made both at home and abroad to mobilize the necessary means for resolving the situation. He said negotiations had been started with the Chinese government which had offered to help rehabilitate the Sanatorium.
8. DIAMOND PROVINCE WANTS 'SPECIAL STATUS'
Angola's northeast Lunda-Norte province, the country's biggest diamond producer, has claimed 'special status' in the state budget allocation of incomes from mining activity.
The mayor for Lunda-Norte, Mr Gomes Maiato, said recently that at the present time his province cannot rely on the diamonds it produces because "no percentage from the diamond revenues is allotted to the local provincial government".
Unlike Lunda-Norte, the state budget provides 10 percent from oil incomes to each of the two oil producing provinces of Cabinda and Zaire, both on the northern Atlantic coast. Mr Maiato acknowledged that the diamond revenues are low, but said this was because of military and political instability in the country which, he added, has delayed a full reactivating of mining activity because large areas were occupied by UNITA guerrillas.
He expressed the hope that once peace is fully restored to the country and the state authority effectively normalized, the province would be able to benefit more from its riches.
9.PLANES WITH UNITA SUPPLIES HELD IN ZAMBIA
Zambia has officially confirmed detention of a number of aircraft which attempted to fly supplies into areas held by UNITA rebels on Angolan territory, according to General Pedro Neto, head of staff of the Angolan air force.
General Pedro Neto would not elaborate on the date the planes were held or the nationality of the owners, but said that the information was released by the Zambian government during a recent meeting of the defence and security committee of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), held in Lusaka.
This followed earlier complaints by the Angolan government that it has uncovered "fresh signs" of Angola's airspace violations by unknown aircraft taking off "particularly from Zambian territory" to allegedly drop supplies for UNITA rebels. A cabinet minister said there was "some instability" on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo but said this situation would improve once state authority was restored in the areas still held by UNITA and when joint patrolling was started by Angola and the Democratic Congo border police.
For its part, South Africa told the Lusaka meeting that it has reduced from 35 to 10 the number of airports now allowed for international flights. This is reportedly aimed at helping enforce the UN Security Council sanctions imposed on UNITA on October 30.
10.ANGOLA TO PIONEER LANDMINES CLEARANCE FROM THE AIR
An aircraft designed for detecting landmines from the air is to start operations in May 1998, in four regions of Angola. It is an EC sponsored initiative launched by a European consortium, details of which were announced recently in Luanda.
The new method is to replace the current manual detectors that have proved inefficient in clearing the overwhelmingly large quantities of mines scattered around the country. Estimates say that about 12 million landmines were laid in Angola during the armed conflict.
Pioneering the new demining process will be the regions of Cuito Cuanavale in southeast, Benguela (central coast), Caxito and Malange (north,) each of them with an area of 100 square kms surveyed. The aircraft to be used belongs to the Luxembourg CAE Aviation Company and is equipped with six different sensors. Among other equipment on board, each of these planes will carry a specific geographical coordinate associated with a given region.
This technology will help detect mines in the soil up to 50 cm deep and from a diameter of 14 cms, in a process coordinated by the Dutch Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences, the sources said.
11.GOVERNMENT HAS 70 PERCENT OF HUAMBO TERRITORY
The Angolan government say they have recaptured as much as 70 percent of the former UNITA held Huambo territory in the central highland, following the process for normalizing state administration.
Mr Paulo Cassoma, the mayor of Huambo province, said the restoration of government authority in the region is going well despite some small incidents involving UNITA members. He said that the situation there was "relatively calm".
"Bailundo and Andulo, current headquarters for Jonas Savimbi's UNITA, are the only two places in the region where government control has not been restored yet," said Mr Paulo Cassoma,who on November 17 left for Lisbon at the invitation of the Portuguese secretary of State for foreign affairs and cooperation, Jose Lamego.
12. ITALY TO ORGANIZE DONORS CONFERENCE
Italy has announced that it has been encouraged by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to organize a donors conference on Angola upon a successful closing of the ongoing peace process.
The conference would aim at assisting in the reconstruction and development of the country, according to Italy's under secretary of state for cooperation, Mr Rino Serri, who recently visited Luanda for talks with Dos Santos. Serri said that they asked the president for advice, for a suggestion on the issue, and he gave a positive reply.
Italy will be engaged from the beginning of the work, he said, adding that the date for the conference will not only depend on Italy and Angola, but also on the interest that other countries will attach to the event. Mr Rino Serri noted that Italy wants the participation of other partners of Angola such as the United States, France and Germany.
13.UN MEMBER COUNTRIES URGED TO ENFORCE SANCTIONS
The Angolan government has called on all UN member states to scrupulously implement the October 30 Security Council sanctions on UNITA. Vice foreign minister Joao Miranda told the diplomatic corps in Luanda that the government was "extremely worried to see that some of the United Nations member states are reluctant to enforce the sanctions that were unanimously approved by the Security Council on October 30".
"Collaboration of the international community will make us believe that the countries with which we have diplomatic ties are really working for the good of the people of Angola," he said. Mr Miranda welcomed both Zambia for recently detaining planes which attempted to fly supplies to UNITA guerrillas in Angolan territory, and South Africa for commencing actions to ban landing and take off of UNITA-chartered planes, as was recommended by the UNSC resolution 1135 which imposed the sanctions on Jonas Savimbi's movement.
14.REGULAR FLIGHTS TO PARIS RESUMED AFTER 7 YEARS
After a 7-year interruption, the Angolan "TAAG" airlines has resumed regular flights on the route Luanda-Paris and vice-versa. The inaugural flight took place in the first week of November on a Boeing 747-300 in what was described by TAAG managing director Miguel Costa as a demonstration that real cooperation can be expanded in the north-south dimension.
TAAG will now on fly on the route Luanda-Paris once a week.
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From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 20:25:44 +0100 Subject: ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE #5 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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