Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 4, 12/16/96

Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 4, 12/16/96

Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 4
Date Distributed (ymd): 961219
Document reposted by APIC

Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no.4 Vol III, 16 December 1996


The United Nations Security Council meeting on 11 December confirmed the planned withdrawal of its peacekeeping force from Angola, despite the continued threat to peace from UNITA's substantial clandestine army.

The Security Council decided that the peacekeeping force in Angola, UNAVEM III, should begin closing down its operation in February 1997. Threats of sanctions against UNITA (see APM no.2 vol III) were dropped, despite the acknowledgement that UNITA have not handed over all their arms, and that over 15,000 troops have deserted from UNITA's quartering areas (possibly to join UNITA forces left unregistered).

One reliable source, associated with the UN, reported last week that he had observed "mountains of equipment and fuel coming into a UNITA base east of Malanje. DC-6 planes were landing and leaving as if it was an airlift".

A military intelligence assessment suggests that UNITA maintains 26,000 fully equipped troops under arms, including its special forces. They are said to have recently received substantial amounts of new French-made war materiel.

Also, the Portuguese newspaper O Independente stated on 29 November that UNITA's special forces are located mainly in the Lundas and Dembos regions, under the command of UNITA vice- president General Antonio Dembo.

Some observers now compare the situation to the run-up to the elections in 1992, when UNITA maintained its military capacity. There is a growing fear that, in the absence of decisive new international action, when the Government attempts to take administrative control of the whole country, as envisaged under the Lusaka Protocol, military clashes could lead to full scale war.



Following UNITA's official declaration of its full demobilisation, its remaining military forces have lost the protection hitherto given under the Lusaka Protocol.

On 11 December, just prior to the United Nations Security Council meeting on Angola, the rebel movement UNITA declared that it had quartered all of its troops and handed over all its weapons to the UN.

This late declaration was criticised at the Security Council by Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN, Machivenyika Mapuranga, who said that it was "a typical example of the refusal of UNITA to make a positive move until heavy pressure was exercised". The diplomat also stressed that "statistics on cantonment, demobilisation and reintegration could not alone impress either the people of Angola or the international community".

The UN ambassador from Mauritius, Taye Wah Michel Wan Chat Kwong, argued that the Council should still consider measures against UNITA, stating that "while UNITA had made some positive gestures, one should question whether those efforts were genuine. The past did not seem to vindicate UNITA's sincerity".

The declaration by UNITA was made under intense pressure, with a threat of further sanctions against the organisation hanging over it. UNITA vice-president Antonio Dembo, stated to UNITA's Radio Vorgan on 30 November that UNITA "would only do so for the sake of peace" adding that "it gives the Government a legal basis to act against alleged UNITA military targets".



The UNITA declaration formally represents an end to one element of the Lusaka Protocol. The next stages of the Lusaka Protocol include the extension of State administration throughout the country, and freedom of movement.

Much of the country has been under the control of UNITA since it returned to war in 1992, after rejecting the results of the UN-monitored elections. Now UNITA is due to hand control back to the Government, and this is leading to military tensions.

The Security Council meeting on 11 December adopted resolution 6301 which, inter alia, "urges the Government of Angola to avoid offensive military operations which go beyond those strictly necessary for the restoration and maintenance of law and order in areas formerly occupied by UNITA".

The UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali had placed a report dated 2 December (S/1996/1000) before the Security Council, in which he noted that the number of cease-fire violations, which had increased in early November, had since decreased. Among the contributory factors was "the withdrawal of Government forces from several locations in Huila, Benguela, Bie and Lunda Sul provinces which they had taken over during the last two months".

The issue of UNITA control over areas is vital for two reasons. Firstly, during the election in 1992 UNITA maintained control over a large area of the country, and had a physical control over the population in those areas. Many observers suggest that without that control UNITA would break up as an organisation.

Secondly, UNITA has made a vast fortune out of the sale of illegal diamonds. UNITA has used its occupation of much of the diamond regions of the country to extract a fortune for its war chest. Diamond specialists estimate that UNITA has smuggled a minimum of $2.1 billion worth of diamonds between 1993 and the end of 1996.

When the Government regains control of the diamond areas, in particular the Lundas provinces, there should be an end to illegal diamond mining. It is believed that UNITA is in negotiations with the state diamond mining organisation, Endiama, over diamond concessions. However, this would be on a smaller scale, and subject to national taxation.



The international community has de facto accepted UNITA's declaration that it has quartered all its troops and handed over its arsenal. This is despite evidence that UNITA has stockpiles of weaponry and continues to import more.

In his report to the UN Security Council on 19 November (S/1996/96) Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali stated that "at the beginning of October, the UNAVEM Force Commander [General Sibanda] submitted to the Joint Commission a comprehensive evaluation report, in which, while commending the effort made by UNITA, he recommends that it hand over to the United Nations additional and substantial quantities of various weapons. The main conclusion drawn in his report was that UNITA had not fully implemented the provisions of the Lusaka Protocol in this crucial area. Although UNITA challenged the report's basic assumption, stating, in particular, that large quantities of its military equipment had been lost during the hostilities between September and November 1994, the Joint Commission approved its main recommendations. UNITA is therefore expected to make additional efforts to surrender more weapons and ammunition."

However, reference to UNITA's need to surrender more weapons was dropped in his report of 2 December. Between the report of 19 November and 7 December (latest available figures), UNITA handed over to the UN a further 597 personal weapons and 403 crew-served weapons. During the same period 4,459 UNITA personnel were registered at the quartering areas. A further gathering of arms from UNITA was reported by the Secretary General, who said in his December report that UNITA has now allowed the UN to remove a stockpile of arms that the UN discovered in Negage (see APM no.3 vol.III).

The refusal of the Security Council meeting to confront UNITA over its continued military capacity, and to take action against the organisation, is a clear sign that the UN wishes to concentrate on dealing with the political aspects of the Lusaka Protocol.

In a move which accepts that UNITA has been importing arms and oil, the Security Council has reaffirmed the mandatory sanctions placed on UNITA in 1993, and expressed "deep concern that the failure by States, especially those neighbouring Angola, to do so is inconsistent with the peace process and undermines economic recovery"



The Security Council on 11 December decided to extend the mandate of UNAVEM III until 28 February 1997, and has approved the Secretary General's recommendation that after withdrawing four military support and infantry units (see APM no.3 vol.III), the next withdrawal should be in February 1997, with a view to a full drawdown within six or seven months. This will entail the repatriation of four of the six UNAVEM III infantry battalions and additional support units and some military headquarters personnel by mid-June 1997. The remainder should be removed by the end of July or August.

However, the withdrawal is to be "commensurate with progress achieved in the quartering areas, in demobilisation and in the extension of state administration".

The Secretary General recommends that "a rapid reaction force should be retained, comprising six company-sized infantry groups, one of which would be deployed in each of the operational regions of Angola until completion of the withdrawal of all military contingents, unless the political and security conditions permit a more expeditious drawdown".



The demobilisation of over 100,000 troops from both the Angolan army and UNITA has been greatly delayed because of UNITA's efforts to place its demobilised troops back into secret military structures.

According to answers to questions raised in the British parliament by Robert Hughes MP, UNITA had registered 69,821 troops by the 7 December [UNAVEM admitted on 14 December that desertions had reached 15,372 with a further 3,233 "absent"]. The answers also show that UNITA had handed over 30,180 personal weapons and 4,857 crew-served weapons, representing one weapon for every two registered "soldiers".

So far only 629 UNITA troops (mainly under-age soldiers) have been demobilised. The UN Secretary General, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali stated in his report of 2 December that those soldiers had "received the necessary discharge documents as well as the demobilisation benefits provided by the Government and the international community. However, serious difficulties arose as a result of repeated violations by UNITA officials of the soldiers' right to choose freely where they would be resettled".

This referred to incidents where UNITA officers were forcing demobilised soldiers off the buses intended to take them home, to reintegrate them into secret units.



The pace of selecting UNITA soldiers into the Angolan army, FAA, has increased rapidly as a result of the Government lifting strict age and education requirements for selection.

The Secretary General reported on 2 December that 18,738 of the expected 26,300 UNITA troops had been selected for incorporation into FAA.

Radio Vorgan on 5 December claimed that "12,000 UNITA soldiers were rejected by the Government's selecting teams in the 15 assembly areas simply because they were slightly older than 30".

In a further development, on 11 December Angola's President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, had ordered the appointment into FAA and the Ministry of Defence of the nine UNITA generals sent to Luanda. They are expected to be sworn in before the end of the year.



Reports are circulating that UNITA may be considering intervening in the crisis in Zaire to shore up its international support.

Recent fighting in Zaire has left much of the country under the control of rebels opposed to President Mobutu Sese Seko. President Mobutu is recuperating in France following treatment in Switzerland for cancer, and the large and relatively easy territorial gains by the armed factions has led to political chaos in the Zairian capital, Kinshasa.

UNITA has for many years relied on Zairian diplomatic and logistical support, and the threat of losing this "rear base" has led to allegations of offers of UNITA support for the Zairian regime.

The independent Angolan newspaper, Folha 8, said on 6 December that UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi has offered to the Zairian regime to send elite troops to fight on the side of President Mobutu. These elite troops are said to be under the control of UNITA vice-president Antonio Dembo.

Folha 8 raised doubts over the veracity of the allegations, first published in the Portuguese paper O Independente. Folha 8 sources the rumour as emanating from UNITA, suggesting that this may be a UNITA smokescreen.

However, the alleged offer of UNITA troops to fight in Zaire is also a reflection of the growing isolation of UNITA internationally.

French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette visited Angola on 29 November, and indicated a shift in French foreign policy on UNITA. In a very significant sign, Jonas Savimbi has been refused an entry visa to visit France.

Previously, UNITA had received French political support as part of the European country's strategy of influence in the region. However, the Angolan Government now has increasing support from the United States, Britain and Portugal. There are now very large commercial opportunities in Angola which France wishes to have access to.

In particular, France has an interest in developing a recently discovered off shore oil reserve at Bloc 17. Specialists say that this could be the largest reserve in the southern hemisphere with a possible output of three million barrels a day.

Following the visit to Angola by the French Foreign Minister, Radio France Internationale reported that "France has been given permission by Angola to develop a new oilfield". The French companies Elf Acquitaine and Total are competing with the US companies Exxon, Chevron and Texaco, and Britain's BP.

It is possible that the rumours of UNITA involvement in Zaire were based on an attempt to gain sympathy from the French, who have been strong supporters of President Mobutu. However, the French Government's clear intention to strengthen bilateral ties with Angola may be a sign of a wider re-evaluation of France's regional policy.


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.

A subscription to Volume III of the Angola Peace Monitor is available at a cost of 10 pounds sterling in Britain and 15 pounds sterling elsewhere. Please indicate whether you wish to receive the Angola Peace Monitor by post or e-mail.

Payment should be made in pounds sterling. If you wish to pay in any other currency, you must add the equivalent of 6 pounds sterling to cover our bank charges.

ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, UK; e-mail:; fax + 44 171 837 3001; telephone + 44 171 833 3133. Back issues of the Angola Peace Monitor are to be found on the World Wide Web at


Message-Id: <> From: Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 21:12:33 -0500 Subject: Angola: Peace Monitor, III, 4

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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