One day after Pravda.Ru announced that a cease-fire was to take place, the Angolan government has declared that military chiefs are to hold talks with UNITA commanders and that hostilities are to cease.
Pravda.Ru contacts in Luanda and in UNITA had informed that the cease-fire was being planned at the highest level. It was issued at 0.00 hours on Wednesday, ending a 40-year civil war, first against the Portuguese, then among the three factions (MPLA, UNITA and FNLA), finally between the former two factions.
Aldemiro Vaz da Conceicao, Angolan government spokesperson, issued the declaration on the 26th anniversary of the founding of UNITA. He announced an immediate ceasing of hostilities by Angolan government forces and authorised Angolan military chiefs to begin negotiations with their UNITA counterparts.
The declaration was made on the same day that the UNITA high command, led by Paulo Lukamba Gato, met with the Chief of Staff of the UNITA armed forces, General Geraldo Abreu Kamorteiro in the province of Moxico, eastern Angola.
The document called for a stoppage “of all movements of the forces, of the occupation of new positions, of military actions against civilian population centres and the obstruction of free movement within the country”.
The government declared that it is in favour of the demilitarisation of UNITA “under the terms of the law” and that its officers and soldiers should be incorporated into a united national army, as was foreseen under the Lusaka Agreements, signed between the two parties (MPLA and UNITA), under the auspices of the troika of nations designated by the United Nations to sponsor a peace agreement, namely the Russian Federation, the USA and the former colonial power, Portugal.
UNITA is declared as “a political party whose action is important for the consolidation of the democratic process” and the document urged UNITA to “internally resolve the question of leadership of the party and its reorganisation”, after the death of historic leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi, in combat, on 20th February.
The Angolan government stated that it is to present a motion to the National Assembly (Parliament) for a general amnesty to be declared for all crimes committed during the armed conflict. It was further stated that people will be led back to their home towns in safety (around 50% of the country’s 12m. population is in Luanda, the capital) and that the electoral process, interrupted in 1992, will be resumed.
It will be remembered that MPLA won the first round of these elections but before a second round could be held to elect either Jose Eduardo dos Santos (MPLA) or Jonas Savimbi (UNITA) as leader, the MPLA supporters began a massacre of UNITA leaders in Luanda, causing a flight back to the bush and a renewal of the armed conflict.
Finally, it appears that the conditions are in place for a lasting peace, for Angola to achieve its true potential as an economic giant and for its people to lead lives with something approaching normality.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru