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Angola: From War to Social Justice?
Oct 21, 2004 (041021)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"Negative peace (cessation of hostilities) is far preferable to no
peace at all but it ... leaves deficits and injustices in the
social, political and economic structures, institutions and
cultures largely unresolved. It fails to promote political
negotiation and democratic processes." - Conciliation Resources
More than two years after the formal end to war in Angola, both
political democratization and economic reconstruction are still
stalled. A new Conciliation Resources study includes a series of
articles analyzing the recent past and the legacy left by an
incomplete peace process. It is available on the web at
http://www.c-r.org/accord/ang/accord15, in both English and
This AfricaFocus Bulletin features a summary briefing paper
released with the Conciliation Resources report. It also includes
a recent article from the UN Integrated Regional Information
Networks (IRIN), noting that new income from recent increases in
oil prices is apparently going to pay off foreign loans rather than
to address urgent domestic needs.
For another recent report, focused on issues of freedom of
expression, see the July publication by Human Rights Watch at
For earlier issues of AfricaFocus Bulletin on Angola, as well as
other links, see http://www.africafocus.org/country/angola.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
International Policy Briefing Paper
From military peace to social justice? The Angolan peace process
Conciliation Resources, 173 Upper street, London N1 1RG, UK
firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel +44 (0)20 7 359 7728, Fax +44 (0)20 7359 4081
The Luena Memorandum of April 2002 brought a formal end to Angola's
long-running civil war between the government of the Popular
Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union
for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) insurgency. Although
violent conflict still continues in the enclave of Cabinda, the
majority of Angolans now face the enormous task of rebuilding their
country and shaping a common future.
This policy paper offers some insights on Angola's recent past and
current challenges from a conflict transformation perspective. It
assesses the implications of Angola's history of peacemaking
efforts and approaches to post-conflict reconstruction for the
prospects of a peaceful, prosperous and equitable society.
The paper summarizes and builds on Conciliation Resources' Accord
publication: From military peace to social justice? The Angolan
peace process. The publication was authored by Angolans and
non-Angolans and is available from Conciliation Resources (CR) in
English and Portuguese (http://www.c-r.org/accord/ang. CR is a leading
NGO with ten years experience in applied international conflict
The limitations of the 'one bullet solution'
The killing of UNITA's leader Savimbi by Angolan government forces
was decisive in ending Angola's conflict. However the 'one bullet
solution' is not a desirable approach to concluding long-running
civil wars. Negative peace (cessation of hostilities) is far
preferable to no peace at all but it has huge opportunity costs for
the country's future. On its own, a military solution reinforces
the victor's power and creates scant incentive to address the root
causes of conflict. It leaves deficits and injustices in the
social, political and economic structures, institutions and
cultures largely unresolved. It fails to promote political
negotiation and democratic processes as generally accepted norms
for running the state and society. Strategies to resolve armed
conflict and build sustainable peace in places like northern Uganda
and Liberia should take these limitations into consideration.
Transforming national liberation movements
There is a natural tendency for liberation movements to have
'national' pretensions and operate in an exclusive manner. In
Angola there were three competing movements with hegemonic
intentions and this legacy of mutually exclusive claims lies at the
heart of the failure of successive peace accords. It creates
particularly difficult challenges for two related transitions:
national liberation movements often struggle internally in the
change from a hierarchically structured military organization to a
more open and participative political party; and within the broader
political arena they are not naturally predisposed to operating as
part of a pluralist democratic system. The presence and aspirations
of national liberation movements in countries such as Burundi and
the Democratic Republic of Congo presents real challenges for
Why Angola's previous peace process failed
The warring parties completely disregarded the Angolan population,
pursuing military victory at any cost. The 'international
community' of global and regional powers and transnational
corporations compounded these dynamics through strategic and
shifting support to the conflict protagonists, at the expense of
genuine commitment to a negotiated settlement. The UN had
inadequate mandates and insufficient resources to play a truly
effective conflict management role. All parties colluded in the
marginalization of the unarmed sections of Angolan society who were
calling for dialogue and negotiation to end the war and for a truly
democratic political system. Angola's peace process highlights the
importance of the international community's principled support for
and provision of sufficient resources to facilitate a negotiated
Resources for conflict vs. resources for peace
Oil and diamond wealth sustained the warring parties economically
but were not necessarily the source or the motive for the war.
There is a danger that Angola's natural wealth could become a
future source of violent conflict and instability if the current
combination of massive exclusion and poverty with corruption and
self-enrichment is not addressed. The opportunity exists to use the
country's wealth (including its social and cultural as well as
economic resources) to rebuild and develop Angola. This will
require broad-based political and social participation and the
inclusion of formerly marginalized groups, as well as transparent
and accountable governance at all levels. The dual potential of
natural resource wealth should be given careful consideration in
other resource-rich African countries, such as Equatorial Guinea,
S o Tom‚ & Pr¡ncipe, Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville.
Continued conflict in Cabinda
A military approach towards the conflict in Cabinda is unlikely to
create the conditions for sustainable peace. The government has
exploited the fragmentation of the separatist movement, but
strategies to resolve issues of Cabindan identity and economic
interests have been absent. Investment of oil revenue into the
province could assist in addressing levels of dissatisfaction.
Rather than alienating the Catholic Church in Cabinda, the
government should make greater efforts to engage in dialogue with
this interlocutor and potential mediator.
Given that the shape of a possible settlement is relatively clear,
the conflict protagonists and those playing third-party roles could
give greater attention to the design and preparation of a process
that could lead to an acceptable outcome. Peace processes dealing
with issues of self-determination from elsewhere in the world (such
as Papua New Guinea-Bougainville, Philippines-Mindanao, Northern
Ireland, among others) may offer some useful ideas in this respect,
including for example mechanisms for consensus-building on an
agreed negotiating position and development of the principles for
engaging in talks.
More than two years after the Luena Memorandum, the reduction of
peace to a military logic has hindered the development of the
democratic process. Numerous ongoing delays and constraints
(including continued politicization of state institutions, delays
in enacting constitutional reform and holding elections, obstacles
to the activities of political parties and NGOs, etc) endanger the
consolidation of peace. The ineffectiveness of opposition parties
in acting as a channel for citizens' concerns, and in holding the
executive to account, exacerbates political tensions and discredits
the democratic process. In this context, it is crucial to support
efforts to promote continuous and inclusive public dialogue on the
challenges facing Angola, ensuring that these processes enable the
participation of rural communities and traditionally marginalized
sectors of society, such as women and youth.
Civil society participation
Despite being excluded from peace negotiations and subject to
ongoing political restrictions, Angolan civil society represents an
important social force with growing potential. More than any other
part of Angolan society, it has identified and promoted the
resolution of underlying structural causes of the war as essential
to a just and sustainable peace. Peacebuilding work begun during
the conflict therefore remains equally valid during peacetime and
is an important dimension of the democratization process.
International support to Angolan civil society initiatives should
be sensitive to locally identified priorities and should work to
build up, rather than substitute local capacity. Particular effort
should be made to support greater women's participation in all
levels of social and political life.
The years of war also led to considerable development within the
Angolan media, and particularly to the emergence of more critical
and communicative journalism (alongside partisan and bellicose
writing and broadcasting). However, while the independent press has
made significant contributions to the broadening of political
discourse, huge challenges remain if the media is to develop its
potential as a tool for democratization and peacebuilding. In
particular, there needs to be a strategic redefinition of the
media's role in a democratic society, as well as a range of
technical support to improve training programmes and professional
structures and ensure wider coverage outside the capital city.
Demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR)
DDR arrangements for ex-combatants in Angola have been treated
largely as a military process, with insufficient attention to the
social dimensions of the transition. Although the demobilization
and disarmament has been largely judged a success by the government
and the international community, greater support is needed to
secure the long-term social reintegration of ex-combatants. Their
return to their communities of origin or their resettlement in new
environments can be a conflictual process, particularly in contexts
of poverty, unemployment and struggle for resources. Careful
attention is required to ensure sufficient support is provided to
ex-combatants, whilst at the same time providing for the
development of the whole community.
Demobilization and reintegration plans also failed to take account
of those in 'civil defence' groups who had been armed by
government. Many of these people feel they have fought legitimately
to defend their communities and are as deserving of assistance as
the UNITA and other ex-combatants. Moreover there is question of
civilian disarmament, given that there are an estimated 3-4 million
small arms in the hands of civilians, obtained as a result of
uncontrolled distribution by the MPLA or the government at times of
crisis or through other channels.
Child soldiers and children
The DDR process also failed to make sufficient provision for the
needs of child soldiers and children. Child soldiers were not
eligible for official reintegration programmes and although
separating them from adult combatants in the transit camps was in
their interest, without family structures to assist them they are
very vulnerable. The system of delivery of humanitarian aid in the
transit camps led to many orphans being temporarily 'adopted' in
the camps; once outside, the rationale no longer held and
unaccompanied children have tended to 'get lost' in the system.
The distribution and ownership of land and the income it generates
have been a source of conflict for many years as well as a cause of
huge inequalities among the Angolan population. In the aftermath of
the colonial era, land ownership has been concentrated largely in
the hands of the political elite, members of the armed forces and
businessmen, excluding the disadvantaged and uninformed population
and further increasing their marginalization. With the peace
accords dealing primarily with the allocation of state power, this
structural problem was left untouched until the drafting of a new
Land Bill in 2002. The Bill - and the concomitant process of public
debate - creates a crucial opportunity for the implementation of a
policy of inclusive agrarian reform that could enable participative
and sustainable democratic development.
Dealing with the past
Despite the rhetoric of 'national reconciliation' that accompanied
the Angolan peace accords, little attention has been paid to the
social processes that enable individuals and communities to address
and overcome the distrust, polarization and pain caused by the war.
The blanket amnesty accorded to the warring parties for crimes
perpetrated during the conflict may have been a precondition for
the end of fighting, but it has entrenched the injustice
experienced by victims. Although the UN expressed reservations
about the amnesty, the parties largely ignored its concerns. Public
recognition of and apology for the crimes committed during the
conflict would be important steps in addressing this injustice, as
would opportunities for discussion and storytelling about what took
With appropriate political and practical support, Angolans can draw
on a great diversity of cultural resources (both 'traditional' and
'modern') to facilitate processes of truth and reconciliation, so
as to adequately process the pain of the past and move towards a
ANGOLA: Frustration as oil windfall spending neglects the poor
Angolans want oil revenue to be used to improve living standards
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
[This material from IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, may
not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its
LUANDA, 3 Sep 2004 (IRIN) - With oil prices soaring to record highs
and new oilfields churning out more "black gold", frustration and
resentment among Angolans is reportedly growing as they fail to
benefit from their natural resources.
The government pencilled in an earnings figure of around US $23 per
barrel in its 2004 budget, but with prices now about double that,
expectations of a government windfall are rising.
"I've heard informal estimates that for every $1 a barrel increase
in the price of oil, it translates to somewhere between $150
million and $250 million a year in excess revenue for the
government," said Arvind Ganesan, Business Programme Director for
Human Rights Watch.
Even an average of $30 per barrel for the year still translates
into an extra $1.4 billion for the treasury during 2004.
But Angolans rubbing their hands in anticipation of a social and
humanitarian bonanza may be sorely disappointed.
"People are asking, with the doubling of the price of oil, why do
we see no major investment being shared with the country," said one
source. "The reality is that ... it is [being] used to repay loans
The state-owned Jornal de Angola hinted as much in an article last
week but, other than that, the government has publicly said little
about what it intends to do with the cash.
Sources say that the way the loans have been set up means that when
the oil price rises, the extra amount between the current price and
the price in the agreement does not immediately find its way into
government coffers. "The poor cash flow of today is a result of the
oil-backed loans signed yesterday," said one.
Billions of dollars of potential revenue - no-one knows exactly how
much - are believed to have been used as collateral for oil-backed
loans to finance the government's external debt, estimated at
between $8 billion and $12 billion.
The strength of the oil price and Angola's improving reputation
mean the country will slowly be able to negotiate better loan
terms, with more favourable interest rates and repayment
conditions. But the risk, some analysts say, is that instead of
being prudent, the government will use this lucrative period as an
excuse to borrow more in future.
"One problem that has been seen historically is that when the oil
price is high, governments tend to invest according to the revenue
that they are getting at the time, and when the oil price falls -
and inevitably it falls - they run out of money," said Ganesan at
the Washington-based HRW. "The other big problem is over-leveraging
- borrowing against increased revenue and not being able to repay
it at a sufficient rate to free up money to do other things. They
could run into a real problem down the road.
"Even with the oil price high, the information we've seen is that
the Angolan government is still fairly cash-strapped because of
this over-leveraging [borrowing against future oil income] in the
past. People in the government or the public shouldn't be thinking
that there's a huge windfall [on the way]," Ganesan added.
Angola is in desperate need of funds to rebuild its infrastructure,
and the country's health and education systems were shattered by
almost three decades of civil war. But two years of peace have
failed to make a sizeable impact - ordinary Angolans are yet to see
the benefits of having a huge national oil reserve.
"I have no water at home - I have to buy it on the street, yet the
government is selling oil for more than $40 per barrel," said Graca
Nunes, who works as a cleaner in the capital, Luanda. "My son has
to bribe his teacher so he can pass to the next grade at school
because the teacher is paid so poorly by the government. I don't
understand why all this oil is not helping us," she complained.
Observers fear that frustration with the lack of tangible benefits
is growing. Some NGOs fear these tensions could escalate into riots
and civil unrest if there are no evident benefits from peace and
the abundant oil reserves.
"The crime rates are rising - it's getting worse and worse. Poor
people will tell you that hope is the last thing to die but,
really, they are not getting any kind of conditions to make their
life better," said one aid worker.
Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), citing reports that
the money would be used to pay off loans, said: "Long term, the
increased oil price will have a positive effect, but if it is not
all explained, that can only strengthen the incomprehension of the
population - they already don't understand how it can take so long
to benefit from the peace dividend."
The Angolan authorities have also been widely slammed for
corruption and inefficiency. An International Monetary Fund (IMF)
report revealed that $4 billion went missing from government
coffers between 1997 and 2002, in a country where two-thirds of the
population live in poverty.
But the government has also been congratulated on some of its
recent steps to open its books to scrutiny. Publishing the $300
million signature and social bonus that the US oil giant,
ChevronTexaco, paid to extend its operating licence in deepwater
Block 0, off the Cabinda shore, was seen as a major step forward.
The promise of an external audit of state oil firm Sonangol,
publishing some of the KPMG oil diagnostic reports and expressing
a willingness to sign up to Britain's Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI) also drew praise.
"Angola has made some positive steps," Ganesan said. "But,
fundamentally, all of those have to do more with how to account for
incoming money. They've done less to account for how they spend the
money, or where it goes."
Others believe the government is doing its best in what is
undeniably a very complicated situation. They argue that after such
a long war, it will take more than two years to deliver a
substantial peace dividend to the people.
"This requires mindset changes first, then strategic thinking and
strategic planning, and finally execution," said Olivier Lambert,
senior country officer at the World Bank. "The mindset change phase
is probably over, to a large extent; the strategic thinking and
planning phase is in full swing; the execution phase has already
started. Hence, the seeds have been planted but we cannot yet see
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