Jan 12, 2007

Cabinda: Latest Developments

Below is an article published by PNN Portuguese News Network, available at Ibinda.com. Translation by UNPO.

Angola - Bento Bembe threatens the armed resistance in Cabinda

2007-01-08 08:30:04  Portuguese News Network

Cabinda – within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by António Bento Bembe and the Government of Angola, on the 5th and 6th of January, the capital of the enclave witnessed  the incorporation of FLEC soldiers loyal to Bento Bembe into the Angolan Armed Forces and the National Police. Bembe was awarded the rank of general in the Angolan Armed Forces and threatened to capture and bring to justice the armed resistance in Cabinda.

According to the Angop news agency, on the 5th of January, obsolete war material was destroyed in the presence of the Joint Commission for the implementation of the Memorandum. On the 7th of January, as part of the same ceremony, 615 soldiers, supposedly coming from Bembe’s faction of FLEC were incorporated to the headquarters of the Second Military Region in Cabinda. At the same time, 53 soldiers of the same movement (two generals, four lieutenant-generals and eleven brigadiers) went into retirement.

Of the 615 commissioned soldiers there are two generals, three lieutenant-generals, seven brigadiers, nine colonels, five lieutenant colonels, 15 majors, 31 captains, 44 lieutenants, a number of other officers and 224 privates. Another 113 soldiers loyal to Bento Bembe were incorporated to the National Police.

During the ceremony, Bento Bembe, praised the effort made by President José Eduardo dos Santos towards the success of the “pacification of Cabinda Province”. Referring to the Angolan regime, he said that “In a democracy, any attempt to distort and subvert order by non-peaceful means must be vigorously repressed and the perpetrators and inciters, wherever they are and whoever they may be, should be hunted, captured and brought to justice.” He assured that this was one of the objectives of his organization. During his intervention, Bento Bembe made no reference to Arthur Tchibassa who is still imprisoned in Texas, following an international detention warrant which also names Bento Bembe directly. Washington has similarly assured that those named in the warrant will also be “captured and brought to justice, wherever they may be”.

According to the Angolan authorities, the FLEC forces have now formally ceased to exist. They made no reference to the FLEC military who continue fighting in the interior of the enclave and do not recognize the actions of Bento Bembe with the Government of Angola, since they consider that he excluded the president of the movement Nzita Tiago from the process and consequently all the FLEC/FAC soldiers as well. They defend that the founding of the Cabinda Forum for Dialogue, signed by  Bento Bembe, Nzita Tiago, father Raul Tati and Agostinho Chicaia, during the inter-cabindan meetings in Holland in 2004, when FLEC/FAC and FLEC Renovada merged as  FLEC, states that “the negotiating team must have the complete support of the president of FLEC and of the Cabindan Forum for Dialogue.” At the time of the creation of the Forum, Nzita Tiago and António Bento Bembe also signed a letter addressing the people of Cabinda, titled the “Message of Truth” where they jointly alerted: “Our enemy wants us divided and it would be treason to the collective memory of the Suffering Binda People to stand for this lethal strategy.”

The Government of Luanda has tried to imbue all the events related to the accords signed by Bento Bembe’s team with strong symbolic significance. The cease-fire with FLEC-Bento Bembe was signed in Chicamba, the location where Portugal signed the treaty with the same name in the nineteenth century. This is one of the three treaties which culminated in the treaty of Simulambuco, on the 1st of August 2005. The Memorandum of Understanding regarding Angola’s northernmost province, was signed in its southernmost province. Now, the Government has created a ceremony, presented as the “end of the armed struggle in Cabinda” on the 46th anniversary of the massacre of the Baixa de Kassanje, celebrating the beginning of the armed struggle for the independence of Angola.