February 6, 2004

Government calls for mediation in Cabinda


The Angolan government is seeking a mediator to resolve the separatist crisis in the enclave of Cabinda. Interior Minister Osvaldo Serra van Dunem announced that the government wanted a "real and suitable mediator to commence a transparent dialogue" about the future of the oil-rich province. A secessionist conflict has continued in Cabinda since Angola's independence in 1975. The "Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave" (FLEC) and its various factions want it to be recognised as an independent state, while the Angolan government regards the enclave as part of its territory. The province, divided from the rest of Angola by a strip of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was added to Angola by the Portuguese. FLEC began fighting for the province's independence in 1963 and continued the conflict when the MPLA took over in 1975. Since then an estimated 30.000 people have been killed. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has promised greater autonomy to the province on several occasions, but has refused to accept an independent Cabinda. "The government would be seeking an internal mediator, someone who would understand the dynamics of Cabinda", explained the Angolan ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Maria dos Anjos. "FLEC is split up into so many factions, with each claiming to be the original organisation; an outsider will not understand it." According to dos Anjos, the government would possibly consider representatives of the church as prospective mediators. (IRIN)

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