IN ceremonies marking the end of Angola's 16-year civil war, Portuguese Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva noted it was an occasion without losers and ``only one winner: the Angolan people.'' Those words, coming from the leader of a former colonial power, should set a tone for the political and economic building ahead. Not only in Angola, but in Ethiopia, Mozambique, and other countries of Africa, millions have suffered dislocation, violence, and deprivation as warring factions battled for power.
The battles, as in Angola, were often debilitating stalemates. International peacemaking efforts, unfettered by superpower competition, now hold the hope of dissolving those destructive disputes.
In still other countries, entrenched, self-glorifying autocrats are losing their grip on power.
What could be at hand is a revival of hope for a continent that has endured a long political night. But quick optimism is premature. Even as Angolan President Jos'e Eduardo dos Santos and rebel leader Jonas Savimbi shook hands in Lisbon, the questions rushed in: Can these once bitter rivals work together to form a single army? Can the political process leading toward free presidential elections in the fall of 1992 be guided toward genuine openness and away from violence and confrontation?
The United Nations, with its force of a few hundred cease-fire observers, will play a critical role in Angola as it has already in neighboring Namibia. The United States and Soviet Union have pledged to continue the cooperation begun during the past year of peace negotiations.
A peaceful, democratic Angola, with its abundant natural resources, could spark progress in all of southern Africa. Angolans, and others in Africa making the turn from war and repression, richly deserve our attention and assistance.