The Angolan rebel movement led by Jonas Savimbi yesterday proposed a five-point plan for direct negotiations with the Luanda government that rebel spokesmen said could lead to a cease-fire by the end of the year and elections by the end of 1991.
Representatives of Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) said at a news conference here that having made important concessions to the Luanda regime, UNITA is now challenging it "to back up its democratic rhetoric with a concrete timetable" for creation of a multiparty system followed by "free and fair elections."
The UNITA representatives also urged Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to keep his promise to ask the United Nations to develop food relief routes for drought victims in all parts of Angola, including rebel-held areas.
An Angolan government spokesman said "discussions" with U.N. officials are already underway, and that a U.N. delegation is expected in Luanda "in the next few days."
UNITA has proposed five "corridors of peace" for food deliveries, but Luanda refused last month to consent to two routes from Namibia and Botswana, saying they could be used to send weapons to the rebels. U.S. officials say Luanda has now dropped its objections.
Jardo Muekalia, UNITA's chief representative here, said the five principles for direct negotiations should begin with "explicit mutual recognition" by the Luanda government and UNITA of each other as political parties.
Despite Luanda's professed commitment to the "concept" of a multiparty system, he said a proposed draft law contemplates a one-party government and prohibits "all associations of a political nature."
"They cannot claim to be democratizing when they refuse to organize other political parties," Muekalia said.
UNITA also wants: a firm commitment to multiparty democracy and free and fair elections; a cease-fire monitored by an international body such as the United Nations; formation of a national army, and assurances of fundamental liberties including freedom of speech, religion, press and association.
Muekalia said UNITA has already made several concessions to Luanda, including recognition of dos Santos as head of state and of Luanda's Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) as a political party. He said UNITA has also dropped a demand to be included in a transitional government and agreed that "the MPLA can run the country" until elections are held.
UNITA broke off talks in Portugal last month, Muekalia said, "because the MPLA was not committed to a multiparty system." He said that if it agrees to the five principles for substantive talks, "a cease-fire could be in place by the end of the year, and elections could be held by the end of 1991."
The Angolan government spokesman, Francisco da Cruz, contended that a cease-fire should come first. "We don't think it makes sense to start talking about elections and trying to implement a multiparty system when we are still at war," he said. "We have to have stability."
The UNITA proposal does not include a cutoff in arms supplies, which UNITA gets from the United States and which the MPLA government gets from the Soviet Union.
Asked about this, Muekalia at first said an arms cutoff would be "a logical consequence" following elections, then said both sides could talk about it after elections were agreed upon.
Abel Chivukuvuku, UNITA's representative to the U.N., said that an estimated 782,000 people in Angola face starvation, including 150,000 in UNITA-controlled areas who are at "immediate risk." U.S. officials had been planning to ship enough food into the rebel-held area to feed people for a year through the Red Cross, but postponed the operation last month because of the disagreement over routes.
In Luanda earlier this week, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Davidow said after meeting with dos Santos that the Luanda government plans to ask the United Nations "as soon as possible" to develop a relief plan, including "the most expeditious and cost-effective routes."