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War and peace

Africanews staff


Separatists in Angola's northern Cabinda province on February 11 confirmed reports there have been "exploratory" talks with the government over the future of the oil-rich enclave.

A spokesman for one of the rebel groups, FLEC-FAC, said that the January 9 meeting in Paris signalled a thaw in relations between the organisation and the government in Luanda.

"The government officials came to us to say that President [Eduardo] dos Santos was considering the issue of Cabinda and recognised the specific concerns of Cabindans. Also they said that the president supported a peaceful settlement in Cabinda, but was not willing to consider changing the constitution to accommodate our request for independence," Xavier Builo, a representative of FLEC-FAC in the Netherlands said.

Awarded to Angola by the Portuguese prior to independence in 1975, Cabinda is Luanda's most strategic region. An impoverished but oil-rich land sandwiched between Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it accounts for 60 percent of Angola's oil production of over 740,000 barrels per day, which in turn represents some 90 percent of the country's export earnings. (Source: IRIN)


Angola is firmly on a path to political, social and economic recovery following the end of one of the longest-running armed conflicts in Africa, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a new report to the Security Council.

The report on February 10, which covered the activities of the UN Mission in Angola (UNMA), highlighted important developments and provided recommendations for the future role of the UN in Angola.

Annan noted that "Angolans can live without fear of recurrent and devastating war" for the first time since independence from Portugal in 1975.

"As the country moves to fulfil its aspirations of nation-building, it is my sincere hope that the government will consolidate peace and national reconciliation in all parts of its national territory," Annan said.

The UN, with the support of the international community, had played a key role in the peace process and in providing much needed humanitarian assistance.

Angola's long civil war ended in April last year with the signing of a peace agreement shortly after the death of UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. (Source: IRIN)

Cote d' ivoire

West African leaders met on February 10 in the Ivorian capital, Yamoussoukro, to discuss the peace process in Cote d'Ivoire following the acceptance by President Laurent Gbagbo of an agreement concluded on 24 January in Linas-Marcoussis, France, that paves the way for a government of national reconciliation.

Rebels who occupy the north and parts of the centre and west of Cote d'Ivoire stayed away from the summit, calling for the full application of the accord, which Gbagbo said on Friday he would implement subject to conditions, including the compatibility of its provisions with the constitution. ECOWAS Secretary-General Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said after the summit that the absence of the rebels did not cast doubts on the peace process.

Chambas said in a communique that the summit had focused on the peace process and the installation of Seydou Diarra, chosen as a consensus prime minister at a meeting which West African and other leaders held in Paris on 25-26 January following the Marcoussis Agreement.

The meeting was attended by Gbagbo, Diarra, presidents John Kufuor of Ghana, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, South African Vice President Jacob Zuma, the interim executive secretary of the African Union, Amara Essy, and the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to ECOWAS, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah. (Source: IRIN)


Presidents Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda ended their two-day summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on February 10 with a pledge to abide by the Luanda accord of 6 September 2002.

Their reaffirmation came in recognition of the "deteriorating security and humanitarian situation" in the northeastern district of Ituri in the DRC, where Uganda still has troops.

The accord provides for the total withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the DRC and the normalisation of relations between Kinshasa and Kampala.

Kabila and Museveni ended their talks as their foreign ministers signed an amendment to the Luanda accord, allowing for a new timetable for the work of the envisioned Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC).

Under the new timetable, the IPC should have been established and begun operating by 17 February. It should end its work on 20 March, by which date Ugandan troops should have completed their withdrawal from the DRC. The amendment also creates a permanent consultative mechanism to enable the presidents to monitor the situation in Ituri closely and take "appropriate action to help them maintain a climate of peace and security in the region". (Source: IRIN)


Ethiopia on February 11 dismissed claims by Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki that it is massing troops on the common border.

Information Minister Bereket Simon said the last thing Ethiopia wanted was another conflict in the war-ravaged region.

"We have seen the information but there is no troop-massing along the border," the minister said. "There are normal day-to-day movements but that is all."

He added that if Ethiopia had been massing troops, the UN peacekeeping force which patrols a 25-km wide buffer zone would be aware.

"The last two years have been good years for Ethiopia apart from the drought," he added. "We would like to avoid any conflict. That is the last thing we need."

In a speech at the weekend marking the 13th anniversary of the liberation of Massawa, Isayas accused Ethiopia of massing troops on the border and of refusing to accept the border ruling issued by an independent boundary commission last year.

He claimed Ethiopia was trying to isolate Eritrea regionally and globally "by preventing it from receiving foreign aid". Both countries are suffering from a devastating drought. (Source: IRIN)


The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has registered 588 adults wishing to take advantage of an amnesty offered to former rebels by the Ugandan government. This brings to a close the registration process which began on 20 January.

Of the total 930 applicants, 299 were females, 289 males and 342 under 18s, IOM's regional project development officer, Charles Kwenin, said on February 11. The applicants included 12 former child combatants, he noted.

The IOM was currently analysing the data taken on each applicant to establish how many were genuine former members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group, or any of its factions, he said. "A lot of those who have come forward are likely to be economic migrants," he said.

Those found eligible will receive medical screening and repatriation assistance in early March. Once in Uganda, they will be handed over to the Amnesty Commission and will receive rehabilitation and reintegration support from IOM and other NGOs.

Kwenin said former rebels based in Kenya who had not come forward were apprehensive about returning to Uganda. "They know that LRA incursions are still going on, and that some destinations are not safe. Some fear that because they know a lot about the LRA, they will be forcibly recruited onto the front line if they go home." (Source: IRIN)

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