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Monday, June 29, 1998 Published at 01:07 GMT 02:07 UK

World: Africa

Angola envoy confirmed dead

The plane crashed near Abidjan in Ivory Coast

The government of Ivory Coast has confirmed that the United Nations envoy to Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, was among those who died in a plane which crashed on Friday as it was approaching the commercial capital, Abidjan.

Search teams who finally reached the crash site in a mangrove swamp found a number of decomposing bodies.

Although none had been formally identified, Mr Beye's passport was also recovered from the scene.

[ image: Alioune Blondin Beye: envoy since 1993]
Alioune Blondin Beye: envoy since 1993
UN officials said five other members of the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola died in the crash. The other officials were from Britain, Chad, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

The commission overseeing the implementation of the Angolan peace accord has called on the UN to investigate the plane crash.

The Angolan Prime Minister Franca Van Dunem said the accident happened in unusual circumstances.

Unconfirmed reports say the small plane was on fire before crashing near Abidjan in Ivory Coast.

Temporary replacement chosen

Officials in Luanda say Major Kofi Obeng will temporarily replace Beye to oversee the peace negotiations.

Mr Obeng will preside over the Joint Commission which includes representatives of the Angolan government, the opposition movement Unita, the United Nations and observers from Russia, Portugal and the United States. He currently commands the UN's peace-keeping force in Angola.

Before the plane crash, Beye had been visiting several countries to bolster regional support for the troubled Angolan peace process.

The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that he was "extremely saddened" by the crash.

"In this difficult time, I once again appeal to all Angolans to continue to co-operate closely with the United Nations and to bring the peace process to the earliest conclusion," he said.

Angolan officials say his death will complicate the peace process, which is already in difficulties because Unita is refusing to comply with treaty obligations to disarm and hand over territory in its control.

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