Angola Pact Raises Hopes for End to War

«Will Definitely Lead to Peace,» Diplomat Says

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ROME, APRIL 9, 2002 ( A peace pact signed last week in Angola could bring to an end the 27-year civil war that has claimed 500,000 lives and left the country´s economy in ruins.

The cease-fire agreement was signed in Luanda, the capital, by General Abreu Karmoteiro, military commander of the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), and General Armando da Cruz, chief of staff of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA).

The agreement «is very important for the country,» the diplomatic adviser of the Angolan Embassy in the Vatican, Miguel Batista, told Vatican Radio.

«It will definitely lead to peace. This decision has been reaffirmed both by the government as well as UNITA soldiers,» the diplomat explained. «No one wants war anymore.»

Observers said the decision might well have been influenced by the death of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in February. The diplomat agreed with this assessment. «His demise has accelerated this agreement, so long awaited by Angola and the international community,» he said.

Batista added that with the signing of the agreement, members of UNITA and the military will now be integrated in civil society and participate in the government.

The ultimate objective is free elections, although the time is not yet right, he said. «People have been evacuated, far from their native areas and concentrated in provincial capitals or the country´s capital,» the diplomat said. «Now they must return to their native villages; eventually, there must be a census of the population.»

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