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Heir to Portuguese throne explains case for Cabinda independence

Dom Duarte de Braganзa, the heir to the Portuguese throne, has stated that there is a legitimate case for the independence of Cabinda, although he understands why Angola does not wish to see this enclave separate from its territory. The reasons for this are obvious, since Cabinda has massive oil reserves, controlled mainly by Chevron (USA) and ELF-Aquitaine (France). In an article published in the Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias, Dom Duarte points out that Portugal has its responsibilities to assume and that it is not sufficient to bury its head in the sand, hiding behind a wall of silence: “The people of Cabinda expect from us the help they need to find a solution”, he said. Dom Duarte placed the basis of Portugal’s responsibility in its signing of the Treaty of Simulambuco in 1885, with the Princes and Notables of the Kingdoms of Kakongo, Luango and Nagoio, the merging of these three kingdoms later giving rise to the present-day borders of Cabinda. This treaty was accepted by the Conference of Berlin, in which Cabinda was confirmed as an area of Portuguese influence, protecting it against France and Belgium, which had already shown interest in acquiring this territory. Under the Treaty of Simulambuco, Portugal pledged to respect the rights and customs of the local population and the authority of its chiefs. Dom Duarte states that all the Portuguese Constitutions until the Revolution of 1974, treated Cabinda as a territory separate from Angola. Only after the Revolution was the enclave of Cabinda, and its oil, assigned to Angola, apparently against the will of many Portuguese leaders at the time and no doubt at the instigation of the US oil cartels, anxious to gain a foothold in an area of Africa whose natural affinities leaned towards the Soviet Union at the time and to gain access to an oil supply which would enable the US to exploit foreign reserves of energy while its own massive oil reserves were kept to guarantee its future hegemony over the world economy. The Independence Movement called FLEC (Front for the Freedom of the Enclave of Cabinda) was proclaimed in Brazzaville in 1963 and in that year, was recognised by the Organisation for African Unity as the 39th State of Africa. Even in 1971, the Portuguese Constitution maintained a separate status for Cabinda and Angola. The Alvor Conference in Portugal in 1975 granted the former Portuguese colonies (considered under the former constitution as provinces) their independence and included Cabinda in the territory of Angola. However, successive Angolan governments rejected the Alvor Treaty, removing any resort to this treaty as a basis for legal argument. This complicates the case further for Luanda. These treaties and agreements, according to Dom Duarte, constitute a sound basis for a process of independence for Cabinda. He adds that “Its great weakness is the division in two military factions (in fact, there are three) and the existence of serious differences between its politicians”. The case is now made public, the Catholic Church supports the existence of an independence movement, the US and France are well installed in the area. Evidently, Luanda does not want to see its main source of income stripped from it. Again, there is a case for the international community to leave this question to the Cabindans and the Angolans but now that the hot-spot has been created, we must report on what is going on.

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON