UNITA, the rebel faction involved in Angola’s 27-year-old civil war with government faction MPLA, is to hand over its weapons caches to UNO personnel.
UN Special Envoy for African Affairs, Ibraim Gambari, arrives in the Angolan capital Luanda on Monday for negotiations which should see the hand-over of weapons by UNITA in the forthcoming days.
Mr. Gambari will establish negotiations with MPLA and UNITA leaders to define the format of the peace process currently under way, after the death of historic UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi, on 20th February. Last Wednesday, a protocol of understanding was signed, in which both sides formally recognised the contents of the Lusaca Agreement, signed in 1994 but never implemented. This document calls for a cease-fire and the organisation of democratic elections in Angola.
The last elections in 1992 were never completed. After the MPLA did not receive enough votes in the first round to achieve outright victory, a massacre of UNITA leaders was started in Luanda. UNITA fled back to the countryside to take up arms and restart the civil war, which had been interrupted for over a year.
Government sources in Luanda have confirmed that the UNO will organise the hand-over of weapons. The sources refer to “an active role” played by the United Nations “to assist the process of demobilisation and the extinction of the UNITA Armed Forces, humanitarian aid programmes for populations in need and future processes decisive for the normalisation of life in the country”.
The Angolan government stated that the role of the international community is fundamental, in seeing that the conflict does not again flare up between these rival factions, based on old tribal principles.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru