Peace prospects in Angola 'brighter' than ever before, UN envoy tells Security Council

Peace prospects in Angola 'brighter' than ever before, UN envoy tells Security Council

Prospects for lasting peace in Angola were brighter now than during the previous peace agreements aimed at ending the country's decades-long conflict, a top United Nations envoy on Africa told the Security Council today.

Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor on Africa, briefed the Council in an open meeting this morning on his just-concluded mission to Angola, where he had met with government officials and representatives of the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) after witnessing their signing of a ceasefire agreement on 4 April.

Mr. Gambari told the Council that the chances of returning to war in Angola were now very negligible, but the irreversibility of the peace process would depend on a number of factors, including the quartering of UNITA soldiers, which had to be "done right, promptly and on schedule," and meeting the humanitarian needs of their families - about 300,000 people.

Conditions must also be created for the promotion of national reconciliation, and national reconstruction, Mr. Gambari stressed, adding that UNITA should emerge as a united political party and credible interlocutor in the country's peace process and democratization.

In noting the critical humanitarian situation, Mr. Gambari said the number of displaced persons has increased by 400,000 to 4.5 million. He noted, however, that the international community had only granted 10 per cent of the needs stated in the Consolidated Appeal Process and said the Council might, therefore, wish to appeal for continued assistance to the people of Angola, especially in this critical phase of the peace process.

As for the United Nations role in Angola, Mr. Gambari listed seven critical areas, including military observation of the quartering process, provision of technical and managerial support in quartering areas, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, and humanitarian support and electoral assistance. The UN is also expected to chair the Joint Commission of the peace process's second phase.

Following Mr. Gambari's briefing, Ambassador Ismael A. Gaspar Martins of Angola told the Council that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the cessation of hostilities had marked a turning point in the history of his country.

With peace a reality, Angola would be ready to finally embark on a sustainable programme to address its medium- and long-term reconstruction needs, Ambassador Martins said, adding that Luanda expected the UN to play a central role in assisting the Government in organizing and mobilizing support for an international donors conference.