NEW YORK, 29 APRIL 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3876th MEETING (report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola - MONUA)
Allow me to welcome the presence among us of the Vice-Minister of Territorial Administration of Angola, General Higino Carneiro, and his delegation.
I would also like to associate myself with the statement just made by the representative of the United Kingdom on behalf of the European Union.
Peace in Angola has been an elusive goal which the Security Council and the Angolans themselves have been trying to reach for years. Today, we might have reasons to feel that our ship will reach a safe harbour. As the Secretary-General acknowledges in his latest report on the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), 11 out of the 12 pending tasks defined by the Lusaka Protocol have been completed. For the record, I would just add that the Joint Commission recognizes that those tasks have been formally completed.
This seems to be particularly true when one considers the military aspects of the peace process. My delegation takes seriously the persistent allegations of the existence of a large number of unregistered and un-demobilized UNITA elements. In this context, we concur with the Secretary-General's assessment that
It is obvious that the conclusion of the peace process will depend on the full demobilization of UNITA, especially the absentees and the residual troops, which are still a cause of serious concern. [S/1998/333, para. 49]
Of course, it would be unfair not to recognize progress already achieved in the current peace process based upon the Acordos de Paz of Bicesse and the Lusaka Protocol. Portugal warmly welcomes the most recent steps by the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation and UNITA towards completing the remaining tasks of the Protocol. In particular, I would underline the importance of UNITA's statements on the total demilitarization of its forces, which MONUA has been verifying; the return to Luanda of a meaningful part of UNITA's leadership; the cessation of Radio Vorgan broadcasts, a step we would like to see as irreversible; the promulgation by the Government of the law granting special status to the leader of UNITA; and the appointment by the Government of the provincial governors, vice-governors and ambassadors nominated by UNITA.
These actions prove the Angolan Government's commitment to live up to its name. They also enable UNITA to show its will to transform itself into a political party.
What is still missing in this ongoing picture? Trust is still a rare political commodity in Angola. It will take years to overcome mutual fears and suspicion. In Angola, war has been the rule the normal state of affairs over recent decades. But peace prevailed between the signature of the Acordos de Paz and the 1992 elections, and peace has again prevailed since 1994, a fact we should all emphasize. Why? Because it means that peace is indeed something tangible and achievable.
The completion of the extension of central administration to UNITA-held areas, in particular to the localities of Andulo and Bailundo, is a prerequisite for a lasting peace in Angola. True, central authority has been established in 269 out of 335 locations envisaged. But it is equally relevant to note that this process should have already been completed, as well as to recognize that the Angolan Government has shown remarkable restraint and flexibility in this chapter of the peace process. Excuses for further delays are not credible.
Inside Angola the de facto existence of two competing centres of power, with different territories and armies, is, and in our view always has been, simply unacceptable. The 1992 elections are valid, and UNITA's leadership should focus its activities on discussing with the Government, in Luanda, the steps both should take to consolidate peace, build a democracy and rehabilitate the economy of the country. The organization of the next elections, within a reasonable, realistic and internationally acceptable framework, could be part of those discussions. This is, of course, a task for the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, which already includes UNITA.
But none of this will be possible until the completion of the extension of central administration. Only after this has happened will we be able truly to believe that the peace process in Angola is becoming irreversible. By then we will be in a position to revisit positively the issue of sanctions against UNITA. We sincerely hope this message is fully understood.
Portugal is deeply concerned about and strongly condemns the recent attacks against the personnel of United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), the Angolan authorities and the civilian population. The cold-blooded massacre of more than 20 civilians in Ganda was an abomination. The incidents in Chongoroi and N'gove require a full investigation by MONUA and the prosecution of those responsible. The draft resolution before us fully reflects our views on these issues.
Before concluding, allow me to pay tribute to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Maître Beye, to Major-General Sibanda of Zimbabwe and to all the men and women serving in MONUA under the direction of Maître Beye. I would also like to recognize the importance of the recent visit that the Chairman of the Sanctions Committee, my dear friend Ambassador Mahugu, paid to Angola and other interested countries. We have already felt the positive impact of his visit.
As the largest troop and civilian police contributor to MONUA, Portugal demonstrates in a very clear way that it believes in a successful conclusion of the peace process. The same could be said of our significant bilateral cooperation with that country. United Nations intervention in Angola has been a major investment in peace by the international community. We very much hope to see a continuation of that international support. We want to be sure that the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation will be able to show us how best to assist Angolans in the near future.