Letter: International intervention in Angola

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The Independent Online
Sir: The international community is faced with growing forces of fragmentation and division, which undermine prospects for peace and prosperity at the cost of great human suffering.

Angola deserves to be seen by everyone as an urgent test of our collective will to build a world fit to live in. An anti-colonial war there was brutally prolonged by the intervention of the superpowers and South Africa. After elections last September produced a legitimate majority government (at last recognised by the United States), the losing side, Unita, armed from South Africa and elsewhere, has reopened the war with devastating consequences. The United Nations Security Council blamed Unita unequivocally for the failure of the latest round of peace talks at Abidjan last month.

The humanitarian case for international intervention in Angola is overwhelming. An estimated 1,000 people are being killed daily, and the disruption of food supplies makes mass starvation likely. This war is a human disaster equalled in recent decades only by Afghanistan and Cambodia. Moreover, it involves most of Southern and Central Africa and threatens the future of the region as a whole. Yet the Western powers are largely content to stand aloof from the conflict.

We, the undersigned, and 90 other academic colleagues, are African specialists in British universities, and we call on the governments of Europe to stand up for democracy in Angola, by supporting the electoral process there and refusing to accept a realpolitik which will condemn much of Africa to another round of civil war and despotism.

This means that pressure must be brought to bear on Unita to accept the Abidjan protocol. The supply of arms and fuel to forces responsible for continuing the war must be stopped. It is time for our representatives to offer active support to a government that stands for integration, democracy and peace, against racial and ethnic division, dictatorship and war.

Europe's (and especially Britain's) long-term economic interest is deeply implicated in the Southern African region. Angola is yet another potentially rich country reduced to poverty and despair. We will never find a way out of global depression if we cannot see that our own future prosperity and theirs are bound together.

Yours faithfully,

Dr KEITH HART, director, Africa Studies Centre, Cambridge; Prof DAVID BIRMINGHAM, Kent; Dr PATRICK CHABAL, London; Dr GAVIN WILLIAMS, Oxford; Prof SHULA MARKS, London; Prof P. CAPLAN, London; Prof K. J. KING, Edinburgh; Prof LIONEL CLIFFE, Leeds; Dr GRAHAM FURNISS, London

African Studies Centre

University of Cambridge