Cabinda accounts for two-thirds of Angola's daily oil production, but receives less than 1 percent of the revenues. DEMOCRATIZATION IN AFRICA
THE contested status of the oil-rich equatorial enclave of Cabinda, one of Angola's 18 provinces, could spark a new conflict after the historic Sept. 29-30 democratic elections.
Demands for independence by Cabindan separatist movements appear to enjoy wide support among Cabindan supporters of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and its rival, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
"There is an intensification of military activities in Cabinda," said Angolan Foreign Minister Pedero de Castro van Dunem (Loy) during a visit to South Africa Sept. 24. Mr. van Dunem said the Angolan government did not accept that there were historical grounds to support the notion of an independent Cabindan state.
He said Cabinda was trying to capitalize on the trend toward the creation of micro-states in the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and other parts of the world.
As Angola moves toward national reconciliation after 17 years of civil war, and voters participate in the country's first free multiparty ballot, Angolan and foreign officials hope to avert the threat of Cabindan resistance.
"The government has decided to create a platform for negotiations for the parties to find a solution within the framework of a unitary state," the foreign minister said.
Cabinda is a tiny coastal enclave that lies between Congo to the north and Zaire to the south, eclipsing most of the latter's access to the Atlantic ocean.
The enclave accounts for nearly two-thirds of Angola's daily oil production of 550,000 barrels, and consequently is responsible for nearly 90 percent ($2 billion) of the country's foreign earnings. Proven oil reserves in Cabinda total 2.1 billion barrels and another 3 billion barrels are estimated to lie in unexplored deep water.