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U.N. Implicates 2 African Presidents

March 11, 2000

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Two sitting African presidents are implicated in a U.N. report that details sanctions violations that have enabled rebels in Angola to finance their war, two sources who read the report said Friday.

Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema and Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore are accused of having allowed sanctions-busting activities in their countries, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. They said the report recommends punitive measures against the violators

The U.N. Security Council imposed an arms and fuel embargo on UNITA rebels in 1993. Five years later, it expanded the measures to include a ban on rebel diamond exports, which are estimated to have supplied the group with up to $4 billion since 1992.

Togo’s U.N. ambassador, Roland Yao Kpotsra, said late Friday that he understood Togo was implicated but said he couldn’t comment until he had read the report. Officials at Burkina Faso’s mission said no one was available to comment.

In addition to the presidents, individuals and officials in Gabon, Rwanda, South Africa, Congo, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and the late president of then-Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, are accused of violating the sanctions, the sources said, reading from the report.

The violations included providing fuel and arms to the UNITA rebels, allowing planes carrying banned items to refuel in their countries, and dealing in banned UNITA diamonds, said a Western U.N. diplomat.

The document, which is to be released Wednesday, is the product of a panel of experts established by the Security Council last year to pinpoint how sanction violations allowed the rebels to relaunch their war against the government in December 1998.

The U.N. panel of experts, the brainchild of the sanctions committee chairman, Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, visited several African countries in the past six months and questioned top diamond dealers in London to prepare the report.

The experts found that the Antwerp, Belgium diamond market, described as the largest in the world for rough stones, has ``extremely lax controls and regulations,″ that allows illegal trading of banned UNITA diamonds, one source said, quoting from the report.

The panel recommends sanctions for the sanctions-busters, including a call for a three-year arms embargo on any country that supplies UNITA with weapons. And they recommend a blacklist of countries that do business with UNITA in violation of the sanctions, one source said.

South African Ambassador Dumisana Shadrack Kumalo said he had been briefed on the report and welcomed it, saying his government had cooperated in putting it together. South African individuals and companies were implicated in the report for diamond and arms dealings, he said.

The report names a few known individual sanctions-busters. It does not provide significant details about individual diamond companies that have bought UNITA diamonds in violation of the sanctions, one source said.

The government and UNITA, a Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, began fighting after Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975. A 1994 U.N.-mediated truce collapsed when the government sought in 1998 to take back land forcibly that UNITA refused to hand over as part of the peace agreement.

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