Cabinda: Independence movements seek international attention

The independence movement for the enclave of Cabinda, FLEC/FAC, declares that it is tired of frustrated negotiations with Angola and that it aims to seek international support for its cause. Behind its claims for independence are massive oil reserves, controlled and exploited mainly by American and French oil companies. Situated between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congo, Cabinda is officially part of Angolan territory. However, backed by the Catholic Church, the independence movement invokes treaties signed with the Portuguese at the end of the nineteenth century, which gave it a separate status. The leader of FLEC/FAC, NґZita Tiago, claims that he is trying to obtain the mediation of Nelson Mandela in his movement’s talks with Angola. For its part, Luanda has set up a “contact group” and declares itself open to dialogue, while classifying the question of Cabinda as a domestic matter to be arranged internally. The independence movement is divided into three factions – FLEC/FAC, Renewed FLEC and Refunded FLEC – all of which demand that a referendum be held for the population to vote whether it is in favour of integration with Angola or independence from it. FLEC/FAC has been more active recently in its international contacts but so far requests for Portugal to intervene have been met with a wall of silence. In revenge, the independence movements started to kidnap groups of Portuguese workers in the territory. Five are at present being held in the jungle in the middle of Cabinda. Certainly FLEC has the attention of the international community, but for the wrong reasons and nothing guarantees that they will not target other foreign nationals in the near future.

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON