AFTER 15 years of civil war, representatives of the Popular Liberation Movement of Angola (MPLA), the Soviet-backed ruling party, and the United States-backed National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the main rebel group, began peace talks for the first time 10 months ago. With the economy in ruins, and democracy gaining ground across the continent, both sides in the civil war have a stake in making peace. Jonas Savimbi, the UNITA leader, in a speech last weekend urged the US and the Soviet governments to continue to press for a settlement.
In the five rounds of MPLA-UNITA talks, both sides have made major concessions. These compromises lead toward the draft agreement that is expected to be signed at the sixth round of talks in Lisbon later this month.
April: Met directly with MPLA, implying de facto recognition.
June: Recognized President Jos'e Eduardo dos Santos as head of state and MPLA as a political party.
June: Dropped longstanding demand to be included in a transitional government. Agreed that MPLA can run the country during the transition.
November: Dropped insistence for specific recognition of UNITA, settling for MPLA recognition of the right for opposition parties to have legal standing.
December: Following meeting with then Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, Mr. Savimbi agreed to integration of MPLA and UNITA military forces into a single national army before elections.
June 1989: Mr. dos Santos shook Savimbi's hand at a temporary cease-fire engineered by Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko. (The accord collapsed, but the process of negotiations had begun.)
April 1990: Agreed to first direct talks with UNITA, implying de facto recognition. Dropped demand that Savimbi should go into exile during the transition.
June: Acknowledged right of UNITA to exist as an opposition party if it abided by present constitutional order.
August: The ruling party's Central Committee agreed to multiparty system and freedom of association. Also proposed transformation of MPLA from ``cadre'' party to open party, the separation of party and state, and the end of party control of the military. All confirmed at party's third congress in December.
December: Agreed to principle of free and fair elections following signing of cease-fire. Time scale of transition and nature of monitoring mechanisms still under discussion.
1. Cease-fire based on understanding that UNITA recognizes existing legal order and right of MPLA to continue governing until elections are held. MPLA in turn recognizes right of opposition parties to exist and will make necessary constitutional changes. Angolans must work out details of a democratic system.
2. Both parties must agree on a date for elections before a cease-fire is signed. MPLA wants two-year transition, UNITA wants elections by end of 1991. MPLA resists setting ballot date before cease-fire.
3. The US and Soviets will cut aid to the warring parties on signing of cease-fire and provide guarantees.
4. Parties must agree on principle of international monitoring of cease-fire and election process. MPLA resists international monitoring of cease-fire.
5. Parties must agree on formation of a single army before elections.