Namibia. In September, President Sam Nujoma vehemently criticized the EU’s decision to review the U.S. aid that went to Namibia and other African states that intervened in the Congo-Kinshasa conflict. The EU wanted to prevent aid money from being used to support military operations. But criticism of the country’s involvement in the Congolese conflict also came from within. According to Countryaah, the capital of Namibia is Windhoek. Namibian Church Council Secretary-General Ngeno Nakamhela urged the government to withdraw the Namibian troops from Congo-Kinshasa, while Moses Katjiuongua, leader of the opposition party Democratic Coalition of Namibia (DCN), called the intervention an irresponsible act. The independent press was also critical.
In November, the political opposition in the country claimed that more than 3,000 people were arrested in connection with demonstrations for the independence of the Caprivi Strip. The Caprivi Strip is a long narrow Namibian land strip between neighboring Botswana, Angola and Zambia. In connection with the unrest here, at least 300 people fled to Botswana, seeking political asylum. President Sam Nujoma branded them as traitors and demanded that they be sent back to stand trial.
- Abbreviationfinder: What does NAM stand for in geography? Here, this 3 letter acronym refers to the country of Namibia.
Organized resistance to the South African government grew in the 1950s. In 1957, the Ovamboland People’s Congress was formed based on Ovamboland and the country’s largest group of people, north of the country. In 1960, OPC became the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO).
In 1966, SWAPO started an armed liberation war in Namibia, with its military branch, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). The South African occupation of Namibia increased in size from the mid-1970s. In 1974, the UN Security Council reiterated its demand for South Africa to withdraw from Namibia. South Africa did not want to abide by this and instead launched a kind of “constitutional conference”, called the Turnhalle Conference, on the future of Namibia. Here a future was drawn for Namibia similar to that in South Africa, with apartheid laws and self-governing bantustans along ethnic lines.
After neighboring Angola became independent in 1975, PLAN bases were established in Angola, and SWAPO relocated its headquarters to Luanda. Shortly after independence, South Africa invaded Angola, but was knocked back. In 1978 SWAPO was recognized by the UN as legitimate representatives of the Namibian people, the same year South Africa initiated another invasion of Angola. At the small town of Cassinga in Angola, the South Africans attacked a refugee camp made up of both PLAN and civilian refugees. According to later studies by Angola and SWAPO, around 600 civilians were killed, as well as an unknown number of PLAN soldiers. This was the beginning of what in South Africa became known as the “border war”, the arena was southern Angola, the border areas between the two countries and eventually the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. In the mid-1980s, there were an estimated 100,000 South African soldiers in Namibia, at the same time as a Namibian military force was being built (South West African Territory Force, SWATF).
In 1983, the successor of the Turnhalle Conference came together in the Multi-Party Conference (MPC). This was also boycotted by SWAPO. Neither the government nor the National Assembly was elected, and the Namibian National Assembly did not have the opportunity to make decisions about Namibia’s future status. In 1985, South Africa established a transitional government of the National Unity (TGNU). The first direct meeting between SWAPO and South Africa was held at Cape Verde in 1984, also without results.
The idea of linking Namibia’s independence to Cuba’s withdrawal from Angola was first raised by the United States in 1981. This eventually became South Africa’s position as well. Negotiations on Namibian independence in the 1980s were therefore closely linked to developments in Angola, and a breakthrough came only after the Soviet- US approach came to fruition as a result of the Soviet glass nostril. A possible withdrawal of South African troops from Namibia was linked to a withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola. The Cubans had intervened in Angola in 1975 to stop the South African invasion. In March 1988, South Africa suffered its greatest military defeat at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola. After negotiations, it became so-called The Brazzaville agreement between Angola, Cuba and South Africa was adopted on December 22, 1988. This allowed for a complete Cuban withdrawal from Angola and removed South Africa’s main objection to agreeing to the implementation of the UN resolution.
The Angola peace plan was activated in April 1989, and at the same time the UN resolution was implemented in Namibia. This meant the establishment of a United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) civilian/military force, consisting of 4650 soldiers, 500 policemen and about 1,000 civilian observers; Norway participated with police and election observers. South Africa then began to withdraw its soldiers. Along the border with Angola and Zambia, a demilitarized zone of 50 kilometers wide was established under UN control. At the same time, Namibian refugees from abroad began returning home, including SWAPO’s exile leadership. The majority of the approximately 80,000 refugees returned to Namibia in the summer of 1989.
TGNU was dissolved on March 1, 1989 and General Manager Louis Pienaar took over the governance of Namibia alone, from April 1, in consultation with the UN Special Envoy, Finland’s later President Martti Ahtisaari. The relocation of PLAN soldiers from Angola into northern Namibia on April 1 led to clashes with South African forces and created a temporary crisis in the implementation of the peace plan. Over 300 PLAN soldiers were reported killed in the fighting.