All-out war threat as Unita regroups

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ANGOLA is facing a return to all-out war following an appeal by Jonas Savimbi, the Unita leader, to his guerrillas to return to the bush and prepare to continue fighting.

Angola has had 30 years of war, the last 15 the fiercest and most destructive Africa has ever seen. The peace accords signed in May 1991 are irretrievably broken and the country, potentially one of the richest in Africa, faces a long drawn out war of attrition between the government and Unita forces. The main victims will, as before, be civilians, many of whom will starve.

Mr Savimbi yesterday called for his guerrillas, who should have been disbanded under the peace accords, to return to their units. 'I am launching a general appeal to all Unita armed forces . . . to gather together in their old areas. We have uniforms, arms, ammunition, bombs, and food . . . We will immediately order the reorganisation of your units in order to continue with the battles for the sake of bringing dignity to the Bantu people in their land of origin.'

But the Unita leader has also indicated he is willing to resume talks with the Angolan government again on condition the United Nations representative in Angola, Margaret Anstee, is removed and the venue of the talks is changed.

But the government appears to be hardening its position on talks, and it may reject the offer.

The UN-observed election process collapsed following the resumption of the civil war, when Unita tried to take over some government-run areas. Since then the two sides have alternated between talking and fighting.

The warring sides were due to meet in Addis Ababa last week but Unita did not show up. Meanwhile, its forces were trying to capture the strategic town of Huambo in the central highlands. They succeeded at the weekend and, as expected, Mr Savimbi promptly announced his readiness to talk.

But he wants the talks moved from Addis Ababa to Geneva and the UN special representative, former British diplomat Ms Anstee, sacked. Ms Anstee blamed Unita for the breakdown of the peace talks when it failed to come to Addis Ababa and said that the movement must take responsibility for the suffering of millions of ordinary Angolans.

The government also appears to have lost patience with Unita's dual strategy of war and talk. The deputy foreign minister, Joao Miranda, said: 'We must not give much importance to this proposal, which is, once again, a joke.'