Angola: Peace Monitor II, 4, 12/20/'95

Angola: Peace Monitor II, 4, 12/20/'95

Angola: Peace Monitor II, 4
Date Distributed (ymd): 951220

Angola Peace Monitor Volume II, Issue 4, 18 December 1995

UNITA suspends troop confinement

Moves are underway to get the Angolan peace process back on track after UNITA halted quartering its troops on 4 December following clashes with Government troops. President dos Santos has invited UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi for talks on 20 December, but it is unclear whether the meeting will take place.

The incidents between Government and UNITA forces happened around the town of Sumba, in the northern Zaire Province (see Angola Peace Monitor no.2, vol II). During the clashes, Government forces took over control of several towns. However, the exact causes of the fighting are hotly disputed.

The Joint Commission described the situation as "serious, inappropriate and to be condemned." On 5 December the Joint Commission sent a commission to Zaire Province to investigate the incidents.

An official communique from the UNITA Political Commission on 4 December stated that "after the occupation of various localities under UNITA control in the Provinces of Huila, Benguela and the Lundas in the month of November, the forces of the MPLA Government are now occupying by force the whole of Zaire Province beginning from the oil-producing city of Soyo.46rom 29 November to 4 December, the MPLA forces have occupied the localities of Sumba, Kikandi, Quinzau, Manga Grande, Nenga and finally Quelo". The communique points out that as a consequence, UNITA were "ceasing at once the cantonment of the UNITA forces".

UNITA's Radio Vorgan reported on 12 December that 12 Government troops and 5 UNITA soldiers were killed in clashes near Pedra Feitico, 75 km east of Soyo. It also claimed that Government troops were moving to encircle Zaire Province's capital - M'banza Congo.

However, the Government maintains that Sumba was being used as a base by UNITA troops to attack the strategic oil town of Soyo. Higino Carneiro, the deputy head of the Government delegation to the Joint Commission (the principal body charged with the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol) said that: "we should not just look at the final results, but examine the causes and origins of all such disagreeable situations. The Government's armed forces were provoked by UNITA troops."

The Government has accused UNITA of attacking its troops, and the Journal de Angola reported that 10 people had died in a UNITA artillery attack on the town of Cambulo in Lunda Norte.

The Angolan ambassador in Washington, Antonio Franca dos Santos "Ndalu", accused UNITA of causing a storm in a teacup over the military situation in Soyo in an attempt to cast a cloud over President dos Santos' visit to the United States.

According to the London-based journal "Southscan", President dos Santos made a series of unilateral promises prior to leaving for the United States, including the release of remaining UNITA prisoners and the withdrawal of troops from the town occupied in the recent military clashes.

The outbreak is part of a pattern of ceasefire violations attributed to both sides, but which had been decreasing. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in his report to the UN Security Council on 7 December (S/1995/1012) pointed out that the military situation remains calm in most regions, with a reduction in the number of cease-fire violations from 77 in October to 71 in November. The report states that since 1 October, UNAVEM III have investigated 201 alleged violations, 31 of which were confirmed and attributed to the Angolan Government army (FAA), and 38 to UNITA.

Government prepares for withdrawal of forces

The Angolan Government is preparing for the withdrawal of some troops and riot squads to ease tension, and to fulfil its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol. Higino Carneiro announced that the Government is planning to withdraw its troops from around the quartering area at Vila Nova to allay UNITA fears of being attacked. The Secretary-General of the UN also reported to the UN Security Council that the Government had "provided UNAVEM III with information on the locations, in Huambo and Uige Provinces, to which FAA forces will withdraw".

The Government has also announced that it will be withdrawing to barracks its Rapid Deployment Police in Luanda and Uige. On 20 November barrack facilities in Luanda were inspected by the Bangladeshi UNAVEM III police commander, who found them sufficient for the purpose. Previously concern had been raised at the poor physical state of the proposed barracks.

UN Secretary-General warns of slow progress

Even just before UNITA withdrew from quartering its troops the Secretary-General of the UN in his report (S/1995/1012) had stated his concern that "for both political and logistical reasons, this process is almost one year later than intended and is proceeding at a very slow pace; on 1 December 1995, those who had reported for cantonment of Vila Nova numbered only 363 and the Government complained that they were 'boy soldiers' with unserviceable weapons".

He continued that "although it had been agreed that, on average, 150 soldiers would be quartered daily in Vila Nova, this target is still far from being realised".

Up until UNITA suspended the quartering of their troops, Vila Nova was the only quartering area in operation. Although some sources point to weaknesses in UN planning to account for the delays, the Secretary-General pointed out that "contrary to earlier understandings with UNITA, however, construction has so far been done mostly by UNAVEM III, particularly by its military component".

ANGOP, the official Angolan News Agency, reported that the regional commander of UNAVEM III warned in late October that the quartering proces in Uige Province could be delayed owing to the poor participation of UNITA. Apparently UNITA had agreed at a meeting of the Joint Commission to provide 500 men to pitch tents, but only 80 had turned up.

The United Nations Humanitarian Assistance Co-ordination Unit in Luanda (UCAH) has reported that "it is important that UNITA starts being fully involved in the self-construction programmes for the families in the quartering areas as planned for the commencement of the quartering phase".

Washington visit marks closer relationship

The first official visit to the United States by a Head of State of the Republic of Angola took place in early December, marking an enormous improvement in relations between the two countries. Previous US administrations had given large scale support to the anti-government UNITA organisation.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos arrived on 7 December, and met with congressmen and senators. On 8 December he met with President Clinton. The South African Press Association (SAPA) said that "President Bill Clinton was so excited by his three hour meeting with dos Santos on Friday that he kept Washington's Ambassador to Angola, Donald Steinberg, behind for a long talk".

SAPA further reported that policy makers, investors and other interested parties also turned out in large numbers to hear the Angolan leader at the influential Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

However, the visit to the United States was not without controversy. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali cancelled a planned meeting with President dos Santos in New York because of the Secretary-General's "schedule".

UNITA general returns to Luanda

An important obstacle to the planning for the global incorporation of UNITA military personnel into the Angolan army, FAA, has been overcome. The Chief of Staff of UNITA troops, General Arlindo Chenda Pena "Ben Ben", returned to Luanda on 14 November. General Ben Ben left Luanda on 14 October following an incident in which one of his bodyguards was shot in the foot. An official enquiry found that there had been no attempt on the General's life.

However, the incident was also cited by UNITA as one of the reasons for its withdrawal from quartering its troops.

UNAVEM face opposition

The Secretary-General of the United Nations reported to the Security Council (S/1995/1012) that "a propaganda campaign was launched against UNAVEM III in the Provinces of Uige and Benguela, apparently with the encouragement, or at least the connivance, of both parties. Hostile demonstrations were held at the UNAVEM III regional headquarters in Uige and, in a Government-controlled radio programme, the population of the province was urged to 'prepare for war' against UNAVEM III. In separate incidents on 24 and 25 October, UNAVEM III and UCAH convoys were detained and subject to harassment by UNITA".

In a further incident, on 12 December, a dozen Zimbabwean blue helmets had their weapons and vehicles stolen from them by UNITA elements. There have also been reports of UNITA besieging Brazilian soldiers in Andulo in Bie Province. According to the Brazilian Ambassador in Angola, one of the complaints by UNITA which led to UNITA taking action against the Brazilian troops was that during a religious service a Brazilian had repeatedly referred to Judas, which UNITA saw as a direct reference to Savimbi.

Calls for more intervention by UN troops

Despite the sharp criticism or UNAVEM by both the Government and UNITA, both have also been the source of calls for more intervention by the United Nations to ensure that the peace process continues.

In the aftermath of recent fighting, the Secretary-General of UNITA, Paulo Gato, has said that "the UN -there are now more than 6,000 UN troops - should be able to accept responsibility. It is a peacekeeping force".

The Government has also requested more action by the UN. The Government warned of a "bloodbath" if UN troops did not step in to protect the civilian population from attacks by UNITA.

UNITA attacks reported in Namibia

Angola's ambassador in Namibia has warned that there have been several incidents of assaults by UNITA on Namibians.

Ambassador Garcia Bires said on 2 December that there had been a "wave of assaults" along the border, where UNITA were attacking Namibians, stealing their cattle and other belongings. UNITA troops were crossing the border by the Cuango River, and the activities were mainly between Kuando Kubango and Rundu in Namibia.


Oil production to increase

The State oil company, Songanol, has announced that it intends to increase its daily output as new deposits are opened. Two new oil wells in the Kiabo offshore project are due on line on 12 December, increasing the projects output from 5,000 to 10,000 barrels per day.

Songanol are also rehabilitating facilities in Soyo which were destroyed during the war. Soyo is also to be the site of a new Petroleum Institute.

Bretton Woods institutions meet President

During his visit to the United States, President dos Santos met with the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, and the International Monetary Fund Managing Director Michel Camdessus.

Speaking to journalists, the World Bank's senior economist for Angola, Rene Bonnel, said that "aid must be upfront and all donors - including the UN system and NGOs - must be involved".

The senior economist signalled that the Bretton Woods institutions were taking a pragmatic view of the situation in Angola, and were not demanding an orthodox structural adjustment programme at present. Bonnel stated that "reducing fiscal expenditure and increasing revenues cannot work at this point", and went on to warn that a stabilisation programme could, at this point, spark a violent upheaval.

US Export Import

Angola has cleared its outstanding debts to the US Export-Import Bank. This will enable the Bank to provide further financing and guarantees which are vital for trade between the US and Angola.

The Angola Peace Monitor is produced every month by ACTSA - Action for Southern Africa, the successor organisation to the British Anti-Apartheid Movement. It is produced as our contribution towards the work of the Angola Emergency Campaign, which seeks to highlight the need for international action in support of peace and democracy in Angola.

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Message-Id: From: "APIC" Date: Wed, 20 Dec 1995 22:40:34 +0000 Subject: Angola: Peace Monitor II, 4