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Peace pact signed in Angola

Peace talks accelerated after the death of Savimbi, UNITA leader for 30 years  

LUANDA, Angola -- Angola's army and UNITA rebel leaders have ended Africa's longest war by signing a peace agreement in the capital, Luanda.

The deal was signed by armed forces chief General Armando da Cruz Neto and UNITA chief-of-staff General Abreu Muengo Ukwachitembo "Kamorteiro" at the parliament in Luanda as white flags flew outside.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and interim rebel leader Paulo Lukamba "Gato" looked on as the book was closed on 27-years of strife.

After the signing, Kamorteiro and Neto embraced to loud and sustained applause by those present at the Angolan National Assembly.

The signing was preceded by a display of drummers and dancers in traditional garb. A Baptist choir sang, "We need to choose how to make Angola grow."

The U.N.'s representative to Angola also signed the deal, along with ambassadors from the United States, Russia and former colonial power Portugal. The countries comprise a "troika" set up to observe the 1994 Lusaka peace accords, which collapsed in 1998.

The government says the full terms of the cease-fire include the demobilisation of about 50,000 UNITA soldiers, which is scheduled to begin on Monday and be monitored by the United Nations.

Addressing the assembly, U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari said:"All Angolans should be congratulated for choosing to abandon the paths of death, mutilation and destruction and explore the avenues of peace and national reconciliation."

He added. "War is no longer an option for the Angolans, and for Africans. And it is time for the Angolans to say, loud and clear: 'Never again'."

Thursday's signing followed a preliminary cease-fire agreed on Saturday, some six weeks after government troops killed UNITA's veteran hardline leader Jonas Savimbi.

UNITA to become political party

Lukamba, who is known as Gato, took control of UNITA after the death of Savimbi and says he is unconcerned with factions that could oppose his leadership.

He said: "UNITA will be legalised as a political party and we shall operate as an opposition party.

"I think we have the capacity... to transform ourselves into a very formidable opposition party... capable of ruling through the ballot box."

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos says he wants to organise national elections as soon as possible.

The Angolan government and UNITA have been at war almost continually since independence from Portugal in 1975.

About one million people have died in the fighting and four million more, about 40 percent of the population, have been driven from their homes in the oil-and-diamond-rich country.

CNN correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gualt contributed to this report


• Angola cease-fire deal agreed
March 30, 2002



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