NEW YORK, 28 AUGUST 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3814th MEETING (the situation in Angola)
Portugal associates itself with the statement made by the representative of the presidency of the European Union.
The preambular part of the draft resolution before the Security Council deplores the failure of UNITA to comply with its obligations under the Acordos de Paz, the Lusaka Protocol and relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular, resolution 1118 (1997). The draft resolution also declares that the resulting situation in Angola constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region.
In his first progress report on the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), the Secretary-General notes that the progress achieved in Angola during the previous two and a half years is being severely undermined by persistent tensions throughout the country. And he concludes that it is obvious that the current state of affairs is mainly the result of delays by UNITA in implementing its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol.
The Secretary-General also indicates that the complete demilitarization of UNITA, the restoration of State administration throughout the country, the transformation of radio VORGAN into a non-partisan station, and the true transformation of UNITA into a political party are imperatives for the implementation of the peace process. Portugal, as an observer of the peace process, fully agrees with this position.
The international community has been following very closely all the vicissitudes of the peace process in Angola. Patience and persistence are probably the key words if one wants to understand the work of the Security Council regarding this situation. We have to bear in mind that between the signing of the Acordos de Paz on 31 May 1991 and the end of 1996, the Security Council adopted 21 resolutions directly related to the situation in Angola. In addition, the President of the Security Council issued 25 statements on the same subject. To complete the picture, I would like to underline the fact that in 1997 this body has already adopted four resolutions and issued three presidential statements on this same matter.
In a way, this statistical exercise also reveals the unrelenting persistence of obstacles to the full implementation of the peace process in Angola, due in particular to the recurrent lack of compliance by UNITA with the obligations it freely undertook in the Acordos de Paz and in the Lusaka Protocol. In 1992 UNITA refused to accept the results of the elections in Angola, even after the Security Council endorsed the statement by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative that the election had been generally free and fair and called upon UNITA to respect its results. The Angolan people was then denied the opportunity of seeing its internal conflict put to an end through democratic elections, without there having to be winners or losers on the battlefield. The most devastating war Angola has ever experienced ensued.
Two years later, UNITA was offered another opportunity to get back on the road to peace. The Lusaka Protocol, signed on 20 November 1994, brought to the peace process the concept of political power-sharing, which had not been foreseen by the agreement signed in 1991. The President of the Security Council stated afterwards that this Protocol and the 1991 peace accords should lay the foundation for lasting peace in Angola.
The current situation in Angola seems to be a paradox, although not an innocent one. On the one hand, UNITA participates in the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, its deputies have participated in the activities of the National Assembly, and some of its generals and other senior officers, as well as about 1,000 troops, have been incorporated into the Angolan Armed Forces. But on the other hand, UNITA clearly has been trying to keep a shadow army, its propaganda machine has been working against the peace process, and, last but not least, UNITA has been able to prevent the extension of the State administration throughout the country. The National Assembly approved a special status for the President of UNITA as the Leader of the Largest Opposition Party, but Dr. Savimbi still refuses to meet President Eduardo Dos Santos in Luanda.
This is a crucial moment in the peace process in Angola. It requires positive and decisive steps from UNITAs leadership, instead of the repetition of the usual tactics of last-minute, half-hearted concessions on the eve of Security Council deliberations. These tactics are unacceptable, unwanted and unjustifiable. The international community has been clearly asking UNITA to abide by its own commitments. Procrastination is no longer a viable replacement for genuine national reconciliation and a lasting peace in Angola.
UNITA has to understand that its current behaviour left the Security Council without other credible options besides the one of imposing additional sanctions. These have been designed to stimulate UNITA to move in the right direction. We want UNITA back in the peace process. We do not want to exclude UNITA from it. Portugal still hopes, as do other members of the Council, that on 30 September the sanctions will not have to enter into force. That would mean that UNITAs leadership had fully understood the message we are sending today.
Portugal also supports the Secretary-Generals proposal to further postpone the withdrawal of the United Nations military units from Angola and to retain in the country up to 2,650 military personnel until the end of October 1997, taking into account the situation on the ground and the wish expressed by the Government of Angola to maintain in the country a sizeable United Nations presence until the demobilization process is over. Portugal will maintain its participation in MONUA, providing the missions medical unit as well as military and civilian police observers.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the Security Council is giving UNITA another opportunity to abide by the obligations it freely accepted in 1991 and in 1994. Now, UNITA is in a position to benefit from the fruits of political power-sharing and national reconciliation. The seeds of war must be definitively relegated to the past. The Angolan people fully deserve this. We hope that this time UNITAs leadership will be able to understand that there is no better alternative to peace, democracy and progress, and that it will act accordingly. The international community expects no less from UNITA.