Magazine article UN Chronicle

Leaders Asked to Put Peace Process Back on Track; 'A Dangerous Political and Security Situation.' (Angola)

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Leaders Asked to Put Peace Process Back on Track; 'A Dangerous Political and Security Situation.' (Angola)

Article excerpt

The Security Council has appealed to Angola's two main political leaders--Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi, President of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)--to accept a UN invitation to attend a joint meeting to help put the Angolan peace process back on track. It was proposed that Geneva, or another UN location such as Addis Ababa, be considered as a possible venue.

The 22 December appeal was made in the wake of some two months of turmoil, following the country's first-ever multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections on 29 and 30 September, certified by the UN as "generally free and fair".

The four-month electoral process was overseen by the UN Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM II). UNAVEM was originally established by the Council in December 1988 to oversee withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola.

On 31 October, heavy fighting broke out in many parts of the country between Government and UNITA forces. A cease-fire was achieved on 2 November, but sporadic fighting has continued.

The Council acted on 22 December after Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali reported "disturbing evidence that both sides are continuing their preparations for a resumption of war on a large scale".

In a statement by Council President Chinmaya Rajaninath Gharekhan of India, the 15-member body expressed serious concern at the lack of progress in implementing the 31 May 1991 Peace Accords signed in Bicesse, Portugal, outside of Lisbon, and at the continuation of the dangerous political and security situation in Angola.

The Council urged both parties to demonstrate their commitment to the Accords, in particular with regard to confinement of troops, collection of weapons, demobilization, formation of the national armed forces and restoration of a central administration throughout the country.

The military forces of UNITA, it went on, should be immediately withdrawn from the northern Angolan cities of Uige and Negage and the Government administration fully restored there.

The Council urged UNITA and the Government to resume the direct talks begun in the southern Angolan town of Namibe on 26 November. Both parties, it stated, must agree without delay on security and other arrangements, which would allow all ministers and other high-ranking officials to occupy the posts which had been offered by the Government, and for all deputies to assume their functions in the National Assembly. Both parties must agree, it was stated, on a "realistic plan of action" to implement fully the Accords and on a continuing UN presence in Angola.

In the September elections, Angolan President dos Santos, who heads the governing Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), received 49.57 per cent of the votes, while Mr. Savimbi obtained 40.07 per cent. The remainder was divided among nine other candidates. (Angolan electoral rules require a 50 per cent majority vote for victory. Messrs. dos Santos and Savimbi, as the two chief contenders, should, under those rules, compete in a runoff.) In the parliamentary elections, the MPLA received 53.74 per cent of the total vote and UNITA 34.1 per cent.

On 18 December, Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali had outlined (S/24996) to the Council President what he described as a "worrying situation" in Angola and the failure of the two parties to work together to implement the Accords. Unless that situation changed rapidly, neither could he recommend the enlargement of UNAVEM II--which both parties seemed to want--nor would the international community feel justified in committing scarce resources for the continuation of that UN operation on its present scale.

Positive developments in November, including a meeting of the two parties on 26 November and their pledge to implement an effective cease-fire, had been offset by UNITA's take-over of Uige and Negage on 29 November, during which a UN police observer had been killed. …

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