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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 12:30 GMT


World: Africa

'End of war in sight' - Angolan general

Angola's army has achieved a series of recent victories

By Lara Pawson in Luanda

The head of the Angolan army has said the end of the country's 24-year civil war is in sight.

Angola
The announcement by General Joao de Matos comes four weeks after Angola's armed forces took control of the central highland headquarters of the rebel group, Unita.

It was only the second time that the chief of staff had spoken since the capture of Andulo and Bailundo last month.

But this week's edition of the Monday evening programme, "Angola: Courageous Nation," left viewers with more than simply a heavy dose of optimism.

During a lengthy and surprisingly bold interview, Angola's chief of staff, General Joao de Matos, said that although the war against Unita rebels is not complete, the end is in sight.

Boosting previously reported figures, he said the army has destroyed 80% of Unita's conventional war capacity.

'Savimbi in Angola'


[ image: Jonas Savimbi: Earlier reports said he was outside Angola]
Jonas Savimbi: Earlier reports said he was outside Angola
Contrary to certain reports and rumours in the central African region, General de Matos also said that rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, is currently in Angola.

"We know where he is," the general declared. "We're going to continue to thrash him until we capture him or annihilate him."

The head of the armed forces insisted that morale within the army is at an all-time high thanks to successive victories against the rebels.

Nevertheless, the exuberant nature of his interview has been received with mixed reactions in the Angolan capital.

One Western diplomat said he was surprised the government was daring to be so upbeat. He said the fact that the central highland city of Kuito is still being sporadically shelled by Unita is proof that the rebels are still strong.

However, other independent analysts argue that General De Matos is never optimistic unless he has good reason. According to one, he is not the type of man who would willingly made a fool of himself.



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