UN Official Sees Brighter Chances for Peace Dialogue in Angola

New York- UN (PANA) -- There are better chances now for dialogue between the Angolan government and the UNITA rebel movement owing mainly to increasing pressure for peace by the Angolan civil society, a senior UN official has observed.
Ibrahim Gambari, the UN points man for the Angolan conflict, told reporters Tuesday after briefing the Security Council that civil society groups, led by the country's Catholic Church, have piled pressure on the warring parties to end the three decades conflict.
The former Nigerian ambassador to the UN was recently in Angola to hold talks with government officials and other segments of the society on ways to end the conflict.
With mounting pressure for peace by the civil society, Gambari said, Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos had recently announced he was ready to dialogue with UNITA and challenged the rebel organisation to join the political process.
But he said the Security Council has to send a strong message to UNITA that it has to stop its war and begin negotiations with the government.
In a statement at the end of the briefing on Angola, the Security Council expressed support for Gambari's efforts in Angola and welcomed the government's recent reaffirmation of its readiness to dialogue with UNITA.
Condemning UNITA for its recent attacks in the country, the Council urged the rebel body to join the peace process.
The Council expressed concern at the declining humanitarian situation in Angola and called for increased efforts to deal with the problem.
Angola has been at war since independence in 1975 as UNITA, one of the nationalist organisations, took up arms against the new independence government.
International mediation brought a relative lull for four years from the mid-1990s but the war resumed in 1998 when UNITA broke out of the peace process.
UNITA is currently under tight international sanctions, including a ban on its diamonds, a freeze of its finances and restriction on the travel of its officials and their family members.

22 may 2001 18:44:00

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