April 11, 2002

Divisions between UNITA and UNITA renovada

Reports emerged of divisions between UNITA military commanders, who last week formalised a ceasefire with government troops, and UNITA-Renovada. The latter split with late UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi and joined the Angolan parliament as an opposition party in 1998 when Savimbi decided to return to the bush to wage war. UNITA-Renovada President Eugenio Manuvakola said at a press conference on Tuesday, April 9, that General Lukamba Gato, head of UNITA's management commission, was "arrogant and violent". He was quoted in Angop and Lusa reports as saying that the commission was illegal and that UNITA-Renovada would create a team to look at unifying UNITA's different factions.

In the wake of Savimbi's death in combat on 22 February, Gato emerged as the leader of the rebel movement. He dispatched a team to negotiate a ceasefire with the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and heads UNITA's management commission charged with overseeing the party's internal reconciliation and preparation for a congress expected in four to six months' time. Gato seems to have secured the support of exiled UNITA representatives.

Meanwhile, it was reported that some UNITA military leaders had already been integrated into FAA and that the demobilisation process under way throughout the country was proceeding smoothly. About 50,000 soldiers are expected to be integrated into FAA or back into civilian life in the process. A joint commission set up to oversee the implementation of the ceasefire agreement said on Wednesday, April 10, that rebel soldiers were heading to designated locales for disarming. "We are satisfied, because the process is unfolding without problems," AFP quoted FAA General Geraldo Nunda as saying. The report also quoted UNITA General Abreu Kamorteiro as saying that rebels "have already begun heading to temporary gathering points" set up in 12 provinces. In addition, national radio station RNA has reported that the government agreed to set up the National Reconstruction Service aimed at absorbing the large number of demobilised government army and UNITA troops. The demobilised troops would be used to repair roads, railways, and other infrastructure, in addition to conducting landmine clearing, the station reported. (IRIN)


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