Angola recovers 70 000 guns

Angolan Minister of Defence, Kundi Paihama, told The Southern Times: “We are moving in the right direction. Generally the reconstruction and disarmament programme is going well and making steady progress, although the country still has many more hurdles to overcome.

The disarmament is also in accordance with the new law, which says that no private person is allowed to keep a firearm. If a person has a hunting licence, the licensee must keep the gun in safe custody at a police station and can only have the firearm in his or her possession when on a hunt,” said Paihama.

The Angolan government has also reintegrated thousands of the former rebels either in the military or in the civilian community of the country, Paihama added.

Regarding the 30-year-old separatist rebellion in the oil-rich Cabinda Province, Paihama said the situation was under control and a truce had been signed.

He said ex-rebels who could not be assimilated in the military, were being taught civilian skills so that they could be productive in areas of their interest.

Over the de-mining exercise Paihamba said that due to the complex nature of landmines, slow progress was being made. He said extra care had to be taken during the exercise to prevent accidents.

He could, however, not provide any statistics on how many landmines could still be lying unaccounted for. Neither could he hazard as to how much money and labour were required for the remainder of the process.

Taking a swipe at people portraying a gloomy image about the landmine situation in Angola, he said that most of the country was already landmine free: “The way they are putting it, it is as if there are land mines wherever you go. That is not true; a lot of roads are already safe and most of the landmines are found primarily in those areas where the rebels operated. We know where those areas are and we also know where people can start farming without fear,” Paihama said.

He said his government was investing heavily in education and health. “It is cheaper for us to bring people to Angola to teach English to 100 children than to send the same children to go and learn the language somewhere in Europe,” he explained.

He also said efforts were being made to encourage people who fled their homelands during the war to return. Cities like the capital Luanda are choking with people who sought refuge from the war that raged mostly in the countryside.

July 2006
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