Summit fails to clear obstacles to Angola peace Summit fails to clear obstacles to lasting peace

Fresh assurances that Africa's longest-running civil war is over emerged from Thursday's summit between President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and the Unita rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, but progress on implementing their nine-month-old peace accord has remained elusive.

Disarmament of Mr Savimbi's 75,000 National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) troops, the confinement to barracks of government security forces, and the formation of a single 70,000-strong national army remain the key stumbling-blocks.

Failure to resolve those issues torpedoed Angola's previous peace agreement after Mr Savimbi rejected his defeat in the October 1992 UN-observed general elections and restarted the conflict, which erupted in 1975 on the eve of independence from Portugal. From 1992 to 1994 the war claimed 500,000 lives, reduced the central cities of Huambo and Cuito to rubble, and forced a third of the nation's 10 million people to become dependent on international food aid.

Angola's parliament created two new vice-presidential posts last month, but the ruling Popular Movement of the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has said that Mr Savimbi cannot take up the offer of vice-president for economic affairs until his army is disarmed.

The meeting on Thursday was the second following their May summit in Lusaka, Zambia, where the two rivals ratified a UN-brokered peace agreement signed last November, after the government army had routed Unita from its central highland stronghold in Huambo. The fact that the talks had to be held in the West African nation of Gabon - Mr Savimbi still fears for his life in Luanda - underlined how far Angola still must travel before a genuine peace takes hold.

There have been repeated, though relatively small, clashes between government troops and Mr Savimbi's rebels, especially in the north-eastern diamond producing areas, in recent weeks, prompting the armed forces chief of staff, General Joao de Matos, to warn that a return to war was "in the air".

Ironically, hopes for a lasting peace could reside in the hands of Gen de Matos, a charismatic 38-year-old veteran of Luanda's years of battles against Unita and its former South African allies. With the help of South African mercenaries, many of whom once fought alongside Unita, and massive arms purchases, he rebuilt an Angolan army that had effectively collapsed after the 1992 elections and had allowed Unita to take control of two- thirds of the country.

Known to be suspicious of both Unita and the MPLA, General de Matos ignored demands by the UN and the Clinton administration last November to halt an offensive against the rebel headquarters in Huambo, and broke Unita's traditional stranglehold on the Central Highlands. That humiliating defeat, combined with declining revenues for smuggled diamonds and increasing diplomatic isolation, forced Mr Savimbi to retreat to the village of Bailundo and to authorise his negotiators to sign the peace deal in Lusaka.

The UN Special Representative, Alioune Blondin Beye, capitalised on Unita's unprecedented military weakness to broker the deal and to convince a UN Security Council still feeling the sting of the 1992 debacle to authorise millions of pounds in funds and the dispatch of blue helmets to secure the peace.

But fewer than half of the expected 7,500-strong peace-keeping force has arrived in Angola, efforts to remove millions of landmines are months behind schedule, and indications are that government security forces remain on alert.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform