LUANDA — A rebel group that has fought for the independence of Angola’s oil-producing northern enclave of Cabinda for nearly four decades wants to hold talks with the Angolan government after national elections on Aug. 31, its leader said.
The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) has fought a low-level insurgency for 38 years. It grabbed world headlines in January 2010 for a deadly attack on a bus carrying the Togo national soccer team during the African Nations Cup held in Angola.
“FLEC is observing the start of campaigning for the general election in Angola and will take the necessary measures to explore official and direct contact with the government that wins the ballot on Aug. 31,” FLEC leader Nzita Henriques Tiago, who is in exile in Paris, said in a statement Sunday.
The Aug. 31 election will choose lawmakers and a president. Analysts predict President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, in power for 32 years, will lead his MPLA party to an easy win.
Oil output from wells off the coast of Cabinda, an enclave sandwiched between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, represents more than half of the around 1.8 million barrels per day produced by Angola, Africa’s second-largest crude producer after Nigeria.
FLEC’s Henriques Tiago said talks could lead to the end of the Cabinda conflict if the new government shows the political will and creates the conditions to reach a peaceful solution. “Our political commitment to end the war remains that of an understanding through a direct, negotiated solution with the Angolan government,” the FLEC statement said.
Requests for comment from the Angolan government obtained no immediate response.
The attack on the Togo team led to the arrest of several FLEC activists and in July 2010 Henriques Tiago said his group’s fight was no longer viable. The Angolan government said at the time it was open to talks but none have taken place.
FLEC and several splinter groups say Cabindans do not receive a fair share of Angola’s oil revenues.The fact that Cabinda’s oil is produced offshore means, however, that the rebels have less chance of disrupting output than militants in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. — Reuters