This week, President Bush announced a one-year extension of US sanctions against Angola’s UNITA rebel movement. Mr. Bush says the “discontinuation of the sanctions would have a prejudicial effect on the prospects for peace in Angola.” The sanctions were originally imposed by the Clinton administration in 1993, helping block UNITA’S access to arms and petroleum and other items.
Professor Mohamed El-Khawas of the University of the District of Columbia is an expert on Angola. He says the move by the Bush administration is a sign it is interested in the peace process and will closely follow developments. While he doubts UNITA has the capability to renew the war, he says extending the sanctions could help ensure that UNITA transforms itself from a military organization to a political one.
President Bush says, “It is necessary to maintain in force the broad authorities necessary.” He also says it could help prevent Angola from becoming a haven for terrorists. Oil, he says, is also a factor. The United States may look for Angola for additional supplies in the event Middle East tensions or an attack on Iraq disrupts the flow of oil from the Middle East.
Professor El-Khawas spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.