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UN office embodies international commitment to peace in Angola: Annan

UN office embodies international commitment to peace in Angola: Annan

The United Nations Office in Angola (UNOA) personifies in significant ways the continuing commitment of the international community to the pressing cause of peace, harmony and prosperity in that country, according to a new report from Secretary-General Kofi Annan that recommends extending the Office's mandate for six more months, until mid-April 2002.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the activities of UNOA, the Secretary-General says that through the efforts of the Office - and in particular of his Adviser for Special Assignments in Africa, as well as his Representative in Angola - broad contacts have been established with the Government, political parties, civil society, and the church which could provide a strong support base in the common search for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

At the beginning of the year, there was a glimmer of hope that the years-long conflict might be giving way to what appeared to be a dialogue that could lead the parties towards a peaceful settlement of their differences, the Secretary-General writes. "Unfortunately, the intensification and the frequency of the guerrilla attacks by UNITA, [National Union for the Total Independence of Angola], particularly on innocent civilians, including women and children, plunged the country into another political and military stalemate," he says.

However, there are encouraging signs towards resolving the conflict, with civil society leading the way to a political settlement, the report notes. Both the Government and UNITA have reaffirmed the validity of the Lusaka Protocol as a basis for peace in Angola, although they still hold different interpretations as to how to implement the relevant provisions of the Protocol, Mr. Annan states.

Speaking today at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General said that the parties might be willing to engage in further talks. "We are getting signals that they may be ready to resume their discussions on implementation of the Lusaka accord, but it is not firm."

Mr. Annan said he would be sending his Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Ibrahim Gambari, back to the region to pursue his effort. "Until now, the two parties have refused to engage, and I have made it clear that it is difficult to make peace without talking to the enemy," he said. "After all, you make peace with your enemy and not with your friends. And if one is going to make peace it ultimately boils down to coming to the table."