April 24, 2002

Angolan opposition parties to discuss role in peace process

Angola's opposition parties plan to meet in late May to discuss what political role they will play following the April 4 ceasefire between the army and UNITA rebels, an opposition leader said. "The agenda for putting into action the military part of the peace process has already been conceived. We now want to put in place a political agenda that includes all the parties," said Paulino Pinto João, president of the 10-party Civil Opposition Parties (POC) coalition. He said political parties should be allowed to act as observers in the process of disarming rebels from the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). UNITA has been invited to attend the May meeting. "We are supposed to verify the entire process, from gathering weapons for disarmament to integrating UNITA into civilian life. We want to discuss our participation (in the process)“, he said.

The April 4 ceasefire is aimed at ending a 27-year civil war that has killed at least half a million people, displaced 4.1 million - roughly one third of the population - and devastated the diamond- and oil-rich southern African nation. (THE NAMIBIAN)

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