Global Policy Forum

"Peace in Angola When Savimbi

Afrol News
April 11, 2001

The Secretary General of Angola's ruling party, MPLA, Joí£o Lourení§o, on Monday claimed that Angola did not need any more peace mediators sent from the United Nations, and that peace only would be achieved when UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi lays down his weapons.

Joí£o Lourení§o made his statement during a conference ("Meetings with Africa") in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on Monday. The statement comes after a row of success in the battlefield for the Angolan armed forces, against UNITA rebels. Over the last month, official Angolan statements on Savimbi have hardened significantly.

Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos in September 2000 had offered Savimbi pardon and an amnesty on war crimes if he would lay down his weapons. After the last months' increased fighting, Foreign Minister Joao Miranda however said one week ago, "Savimbi did not ask for dialogue. ... We launched the dialogue as a challenge even to him [Savimbi] once he abandons the armed option. Savimbi cannot be seen as a valid partner for the peace process."

Also at Monday's Lisbon conference, Eugénio Manuvakola, leader of the Renewed Unity party, made statements on the Angolan conflict. He reminded the participants that the Angolan conflict is the oldest on the African continent but that, in his opinion, there was no for more peace accords, as one should affirm the accord already signed in Lusaka, according to the Portuguese international radio RDP.

According to Eugénio Manuvakola, the Angolan conflict is fought between single parties, and not between "tribes", as several observers seemed to believe.

Turning to the economic development of his country, Manuvakola pointed to the development "error" that Angola had inherited from the Portuguese colonial power; the development of the littoral zone based on the exploitation of the interior. He more than indicated that Portugal should take more responsibility for this situation today.

While the Angolan conflict is still ongoing, a parallel conflict in Mozambique was terminated nine years ago. Also speaking at the Lisbon conference was Chico Francisco, the responsible of international relations of the Mozambican opposition party Renamo (somewhat comparable to Savimbi's UNITA in the terminated Mozambican conflict).

Referring to the experiences Renamo had made after the 1992 peace accord terminated 16 years of civil war against governing Frelimo; Francisco said they were mostly positive. However, peace and democracy had put Renamo in a new situation and the democratisation process had been troublesome. He especially pointed to the 1999 elections, where over one million votes had not been taken into account, mostly from Renamo dominated areas.

Also the Angolan government and international peace mediators foresee a UNITA participation in future Angola elections. The last elections in which UNITA participated were however won by the MPLA, making the rebels return to the battlefield after a short period of peace and beginning reconciliation.

Meanwhile, the battles in Angola continue, mostly confirming the gains made over the last months by the Angolan Armed Forces, which seem to have encircled Savimbi and his remaining rebels. Analysts note that it might seem that the Angolan government now is going for a totally military solution on the old conflict.

UNITA was forced out of most of their strongholds in 2000, and have since then failed to counter army gains. A large number of rebels, including high-ranking officers, have surrendered to the government, asking for the amnesty offered rebels laying down their weapons. According to UNITA Captain Bemba Kaliato who surrendered to the Angolan authorities in Benguela City recently, UNITA troops are suffering from a lack of food and medicines, and he predicts that many more will soon surrender.



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