Savimbi planned ceasefire
Luanda - Angola's slain rebel leader Jonas Savimbi signed an order to his
troops' commanders to effect a unilateral ceasefire two days before
his death, a Unita official said on Sunday.
General Samuel Kapingana, Unita's deputy chief of staff, said
Savimbi had advised his commanders of his plan for a truce from
March 15 before he was killed in battle with the army on February
"Jonas Savimbi had advised all his commanders on the military
fronts and asked them to prepare themselves for a unilateral
ceasefire that would be declared on March 15," he told AFP.
Another Unita military leader, General Kalias, said on the
sidelines of a meeting between rebel military chiefs and civil
society on Saturday that "Doctor Savimbi had wanted to put in place
his last wish to end the war".
Kapingana had taken up contacts with the Roman Catholic
Sant'Egidio community in September 2001 in a bid to set up talks
between the rebels and the government.
"Savimbi also wanted to offer a 30-day truce during December
2001. That's why he had also launched an initiative through the
church," Kapingana said.
The first step
That truce would have been the first step toward resuming
negotiations with the government, he said.
After Savimbi's death, the military leaders of his National
Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) agreed to a
ceasefire with breath-taking speed, officially signing a deal to
end the fighting on Thursday.
Savimbi had written to Roman Catholic bishops in March 2001 to
help restart peace negotiations between his movement and the
Dim prospects for a ceasefire had flickered during the last
year, as each side demanded that the other be the first to lay down
The deal signed last week is the fourth agreement since the
civil war broke out in 1975, but without Savimbi, international
observers have said this could be the best chance yet for a peace
deal to stick.
The war in Angola has left at least 500 000 dead, according to
the most conservative estimates.
About 4.1 million people, roughly one third of the population,
have been displaced by the war, which has devastated the economy of
a nation rich in natural resources. - Sapa-AFP