ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST
THE opposition delegation at Angolan peace talks said yesterday that the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) had hardened its stance and the talks were almost "back to square one."
Jorge Valentim, delegation chief for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), said government delegates raised numerous objections Wednesday to a peace protocol.
A neutral participant at the talks said the government's objections "came out of the blue." The two sides were earlier said to be in virtual agreement on the 35-point protocol at the United Nations-brokered talks, convened on April 12 to end the renewed fighting in Angola.
But government delegates demanded that UNITA withdraw from areas it has conquered since the civil war resumed.
The MPLA Army's senior delegate in Abidjan, Gen. Higino Carneiro, said there were many differences.
He said the government was "not concerned" about the April 30 deadline when the mandate of the UN monitoring operation in Angola, called UNAVEM, expires. The talks were due to resume later Thursday and UN officials said they had not given up hope of an agreement.