September 26, 2002

US Prolongs Sanctions Against Unita, World Bank supports resettlement

U.S. President George W. Bush decided to extend for a year-term sanctions on Unita following his measures of "national emergency". The White House Wednesday, September 25, informed that the move is due to US "international obligations" and to "harmful effects that suspension of sanctions could have in peace perspective in Angola". George Bush extended three different measures, being the first one that which prohibits sale of weapons and oil products to Unita that started its application in 1993. The two other ones, that came into force in 1997 and 1998, focus on shutting down of Unita offices and freezing of its goods in the United States. These measures, signed by Bill Clinton at that time, also included freezing of Unita officials and their relatives' goods.

The sanctions, which also prohibit the importation of diamonds exported from Angola without a government licence, were implemented as a result of UNITA's decision to resume armed conflict following presidential elections in 1992. Under the sanctions, all UNITA offices in the United States have been closed and sales of mining equipment to Angola are also banned.

"By renewing the sanctions against UNITA, the US is ostensibly trying to prevent any kind of military resurgence of the rebel movement. However, the US now runs the risk of accusations from UNITA that it is hampering efforts to transform the rebel group into a viable political party," Ross Herbert, a senior researcher at the South African Institute of International Relations, told IRIN.

Angola is of enormous strategic importance to the United States because of its huge off-shore oil reserves. The southern African country is currently the eighth largest supplier of petroleum to the United States, and reports have indicated its share of the US market is expected to increase as newly discovered oil fields are exploited.

In a separate development, the World Bank (IBRD) will assist the Angolan government in resettlement of 1,500,000 people in their respective areas of origin.

Elsa Montenegro, a IBRD officer for Africa, won't disclose cost of the resettlement project but reiterated the support to government programmes in all fields. She made these remarks when addressing press in Caala district (central Huambo Province) where 20,000 families have been resettled through a IBRD-funded project worth 2 million US Dollars. The project was implemented by Angolan "ADRA" non-governmental organisation in collaboration with local government. To her, there is a urgent need to support population returning to their zones of origin now that war is over. "There is need to assist them first with agricultural means and seeds so that they can develop agriculture and secure their sustenance". Elsa Montenegro called on the World Food Programme to provide assistance to people that return to their areas of origin otherwise they will consume seeds for cultivation of fields. The IBRD officer acknowledged the need to assist the government in construction of schools and medical posts in those areas where people are being resettled. She said that the cost of the resettlement programme will depend on results of donors' conference being convened by the government in November. (ANGOLA PRESS AGENCY / IRIN)

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