Angola Talks Falter Without Plan to Encamp Rebel Forces
PEACE talks on Angola suffered a setback Nov. 30 as the two warring sides failed to agree on how rebel forces would withdraw from areas they have captured.
According to a participant in the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Angolan government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) held separate meetings with United Nations mediators and foreign observers, instead of resuming face-to-face bargaining as scheduled.
The withdrawal of UNITA forces from areas they have occupied since fighting resumed last year is a key item in the five-point peace plan presented by Alioune Blondin Beye, the UN special envoy to Angola.
Fighting flared anew in October 1992 after UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi refused to accept defeat in the first multiparty elections, which were declared largely free and fair by the UN. An estimated 1,000 people die each day from fighting, famine, and disease.
The latest round of talks opened in Lusaka, Zambia, on Nov. 15. The government wants UNITA to pull back from territory it seized in the last year, while UNITA wants a pledge from the government to hold a new poll. Both sides have cited progress on disarmament procedures and the formation of a unified army, and have agreed to put off talks on power-sharing, long seen as an obstacle to a settlement, until a cease-fire was in place. Aideed: What the talks lack
Ethiopia, anxious to save a United Nations conference on aid to Somalia, is trying to persuade Somali warlord Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed to attend a separate meeting of Somali parties, diplomats said Nov. 30.
Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi, the host of the UN conference, hoped the second meeting would pave the way for a compromise between the Somali warlord and the UN, they say.
Diplomats say no plan will be lasting without Aideed's backing.
The UN opened the conference on Nov. 29 in an attempt to put relief operations in Somalia back on track. But Aideed boycotted, and demanded that eight of his senior aides currently being held by the UN be released. Twelve other factions, including the one led by Aideed's archrival, Mohamed Ali Mahdi, attended the three-day meeting.