UPDATE 2-Angola says open to talks after FLEC calls off war

* FLEC leaders call end to war in Cabinda

* Want to start talks with Angola government in Lisbon

* FLEC responsible for deadly Jan 8 attack on Togo team

* FLEC and government talks have failed in the past

(Adds details, Cabinda lawyer in paragraphs 10-14)

By Henrique Almeida

LUANDA, July 9 (BestGrowthStock) – Angola said on Friday it was open
to talks with separatist group FLEC after its exiled leaders
announced an end to their armed struggle for control of the
country’s oil-producing enclave of Cabinda.

The leader of the small and divided Front for the Liberation
of the Enclave of Cabinda, Henrique N’zita Tiago, said his
group’s fight was no longer viable and offered to start talks
with the Angolan government in Portugal’s capital Lisbon.

FLEC, which has been fighting for Cabinda’s independence
from Angola for over 30 years, grabbed world headlines in
January when it staged a gun attack on the Togo national soccer
team during the African Nations Cup in Angola.

“If FLEC leaders say they want to talk with the government
we say we are open to that,” Antonio Bento Bembe, Angola’s
secretary of state for human rights and president of the
Cabindan Dialogue Forum, told Reuters.

“But that does not mean those responsible for the recent
terrorist attacks will not be brought to justice.”


FLEC’s 82-year-old leader N’zita Tiago, who is thought to be
living in Paris, and the head of the splinter group FLEC
Renovada, Alexandre Builo Tati, said in separate interviews with
the Portuguese news agency Lusa that their war in Cabinda was

“No, we don’t want war in Cabinda. The Portuguese government
should advise the Angolan government or its leaders to start a
dialogue. I would like those talks to begin in Lisbon,” Tiago

The Angolan government branded FLEC a terrorist organisation
after it claimed responsibility for the Jan. 8 ambush of a bus
carrying the Togo team, in which it killed two members of the
soccer team’s delegation.

Angolan authorities also issued arrest warrants for FLEC’s
leaders, many of whom are thought to be in Paris. Several
prominent figures in Cabindan society, including a university
professor, a human rights activist and a priest, have been

It is not the first time FLEC and the government have tried
to settle their differences.

In 2006, FLEC rebels under Bento Bembe, who is now in the
government, signed a peace deal to integrate former rebels into
the army and give Cabinda more oil money, but the agreement was
rejected by FLEC’s Paris-based president N’zita Tiago.

Some Cabindans now hope the Angolan government and FLEC’s
willingness to talk can help end the conflict.

“We cannot undermine FLEC and the government’s willingness
to enter into talks,” said Martinho Nombo, a former vice
governor of Cabinda who is now a lawyer and professor.

“Everyone in Cabinda wants a solution that will put an end
to their suffering.”

Angola, a former Portuguese colony, rivals Nigeria as
Africa’s biggest oil producer.

Chevron Corp (CVX.N: ) and Total SA (TOTF.PA: ), among others,
are involved in offshore oil exploration in Cabinda, which is
separated from Angola by a strip of land belonging to the
Democratic Republic of the Congo and accounts for over half of
the oil produced in the African nation.
(Reporting by Henrique Almeida; Editing by Charles Dick)

UPDATE 2-Angola says open to talks after FLEC calls off war