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People's Republic of Angola

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People's Republic of Angola
República Popular de Angola

Location of Angola
Common languagesPortuguese
State atheism
GovernmentUnitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic
• 1975–1979
Agostinho Neto
• 1979–1992
José Eduardo dos Santos
Prime Minister 
• 1975–1978
Lopo do Nascimento
• 1991–1992
Fernando José de França Dias Van-Dúnem
Historical eraCold War
11 November 1975
22 November 1976
25 August 1992
Driving sideright
Calling code244
ISO 3166 codeAO
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Overseas Province of Angola
Republic of Angola

The People's Republic of Angola (Portuguese: República Popular de Angola) was the self-declared socialist state which governed Angola from its independence in 1975 until 25 August 1992, during the Angolan Civil War.


War of Independence, 1961-1975

In 1961, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), based in neighbouring countries, launched a guerrilla campaign against Portuguese rule in Angola, in what was called the Overseas Province of Angola. In 1966, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) joined the struggle for independence against Portugal. The MPLA was Marxist-Leninist and backed by both Cuba and the Soviet Union. UNITA was primarily backed by China. The war lasted until the overthrow of Portugal's Estado Novo regime in 1974 through the Carnation Revolution. On 15 January 1975 the different parties signed the Alvor Accords. The agreement promised Angolan independence and elections for the National Assembly of Angola in October 1975. The agreement also called for the integration of the Angolan parties into a new unified Angolan military.[1][2][3]

Civil War, 1975-1991

During the independence war, the three pro-independent groups sometimes fought each other, in addition to the Portuguese. Following the Alvor Accords, the relationship between these groups deteriorated further. In July 1975, the MPLA violently forced the FNLA out of Luanda, while UNITA voluntarily withdrew to its stronghold in the south. By August, the MPLA had conquered 11 of the 15 provincial capitals, including the capital city Luanda, and also the oil rich Cabinda, which was claimed by the separatist Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC). On October 23, South Africa launched Operation Savannah, with 2,000 soldiers crossing from Namibia in support of both the FNLA and UNITA. They quickly captured five provincial capitals from the MPLA. Zaire also intervened from the north against the MPLA in support of the FNLA.[4] At the start of November, Cuba sent 4,000 soldiers in support of the MPLA as part of Operation Carlota.[5]

On 11 November 1975, Agostinho Neto, the leader of the MPLA, declared Angola's independence as the People's Republic of Angola a one-party Marxist-Leninist state.[2] In response, UNITA declared Angolan independence as the Social Democratic Republic of Angola in Huambo, while the FNLA declared the Democratic Republic of Angola based in Ambriz. FLEC declared the independence of the Republic of Cabinda.[6] The FNLA and UNITA forged an alliance on 23 November 1975, proclaiming their own coalition government, the Democratic People's Republic of Angola, based in Huambo with FLNA's Holden Roberto and UNITA's Jonas Savimbi as co-presidents.[7][8]

The Cuban intervention, which would eventually number 18,000, was key in securing the MPLA's positions and repelling the advances of FNLA and UNITA. South Africa began withdrawing its troops in January 1976. The MPLA, with Cuban help, consolidated power over the whole country capturing all of Angola's provincial capitals, including Huambo on 8 February. Without South African support, UNITA was weakened and withdrew into the bush to fight a guerrilla war where they continued to be supplied by South Africa and the United States.[9][10]

Factionalism within the MPLA became a major challenge to Neto's power by late 1975. Interior minister Nito Alves, and Chief of Staff José Van-Dunem, began planning a coup d'état against Neto, allegedly with Soviet backing.[11] Alves and Van-Dunem planned to arrest Neto on 21 May 1977 before a meeting of the MPLA's Central Committee but this was cancelled after the location of the meeting was changed. The Central Committee accused Alves of factionalism and voted to dismiss Alves and Van-Dunem.[11] In support of Alves, the FAPLA 8th Brigade freed more than 150 supporters of Nito Alves, called Nitistas, from São Paulo prison on 27 May. The Nitistas then toom control of the palace and the radio station in Luanda, announcing their coup. Cuban forces loyal to Neto retook the palace, radio station and the barracks of the 8th Brigade.[11] The MPLA government arrested tens of thousands of suspected Nitistas from May to November, including Van-Dunem who was executed. Thousands of Nitistas were executed by Cuban and MPLA troops in the purge.[12][13]

During the civil war, South Africa would launch large-scale operations in Angola to attack SWAPO guerrillas who were fighting for Namibian independence from South Africa. They would also launch operations in support of UNITA guerrillas while Cuban forces remained in Angola in support of government military operations. In January 1984, an agreement was negotiated. South Africa obtained from Angola a promise to withdraw its support for the SWAPO in exchange for the evacuation of all South African troops from Angola, however South Africa continued to launch raids into Angola.[14]

In 1988, the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, where the MPLA and Cuba battled UNITA and South Africa to a stalemate, led to the Tripartite Accord, which secured Namibia's independence and the withdrawal of Cuban and South African forces from Angola.[15][16]

In 1991, the MPLA and UNITA signed the peace agreement known as the Bicesse Accords, which allowed for multiparty elections in Angola. In 1992, the People's Republic of Angola was constitutionally succeeded by the Republic of Angola and elections were held.[17] Angola held the first round of its 1992 presidential election on 29–30 September. Dos Santos officially received 49.57% of the vote and Savimbi won 40.6%. A second round of voting was required since no candidate had received more than 50%. UNITA and the othed opposition parties and some election observers, said the election hadn't been fair.[18][19] On 31 October government troops in Luanda attacked UNITA supporters, including Vice President of UNITA Jeremias Chitunda who was killed. Thousands of UNITA and FNLA voters were massacred across the country by the MPLA in what is known as the Halloween Massacre.[20] The civil war resumed and only ended after Savimbi was killed in 2002. The war had killed 800,000 people and displaced 4 million.[21]


The Angolan government manged its oil windfall effectively. The trade balance remained profitable and external debt was kept within reasonable limits. In 1985, debt service amounted to $324 million, or about 15% of exports.[14]


A major effort was made in the field of adult education and literacy, particularly in urban centres. In 1986, the number of primary school students exceeded one and a half million, and nearly half a million adults learned to read and write. The language of instruction remained mainly Portuguese, but experiments were tried to introduce the study of local African languages from the first years of schooling. Relations between the churches and the ruling party remained relatively calm.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Lei 5/72, 1972-06-23". Diário da República Eletrónico (in Portuguese). Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b Rothchild, Donald S. (1997). Managing Ethnic Conflict in Africa: Pressures and Incentives for Cooperation. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1997. pp. 115–116. ISBN 978-0-8157-7593-5.
  3. ^ Tvedten, Inge (1997). Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction. London. pp. 3. ISBN 978-0-8133-3335-9.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ Meredith, Martin (2005). The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair, a History of Fifty Years of Independence. PublicAffairs. p. 316. ISBN 978-1-58648-246-6.
  5. ^ Bourne, Peter G. (1986), Fidel: A Biography of Fidel Castro, New York City: Dodd, Mead & Company, pp. 281, 284–287.
  6. ^ Mwaura, Ndirangu (2005). Kenya Today: Breaking the Yoke of Colonialism in Africa. pp. 222–223.
  7. ^ Crocker, Chester A.; Hampson, Fen Osler; Aall, Pamela R. (2005). Grasping The Nettle: Analyzing Cases Of Intractable Conflict. p. 213.
  8. ^ Faria, P.C.J. (2013). The Post-war Angola: Public Sphere, Political Regime and Democracy. EBSCO ebook academic collection. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 271. ISBN 978-1-4438-6671-2. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  9. ^ Young, Crawford; Thomas Turner (1985). The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State. University of Wisconsin Pres. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-299-10113-8.
  10. ^ "Involvement in the Angolan Civil War, Zaire: A Country Study". United States Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  11. ^ a b c George, Edward (2005). The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 1965–1991: From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale. Frank Cass. pp. 127–128. ISBN 978-0-415-35015-0.
  12. ^ "The orphans of Angola's secret massacre seek the truth". BBC News. 6 September 2020. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  13. ^ Pawson, Lara (30 April 2014). In the Name of the People: Angola's Forgotten Massacre. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-78076-905-9.
  14. ^ a b c Fernando Andresen Guimaráes, The Origins of the Angolan Civil War : Foreign Intervention and Domestic Political Conflict, Basingstoke & Londres, Houndsmills, 1998.
  15. ^ Brittain, Victoria (1998). Death of Dignity: Angola's Civil War. London: Pluto Press. pp. 32–38. ISBN 978-0-7453-1247-7.
  16. ^ "Agreement among the People's Republic of Angola, the Republic of Cuba, and the Republic of South Africa (Tripartite Agreement)". United Nations.
  17. ^ French, Howard W. (3 March 2002). "The World; Exit Savimbi, and the Cold War in Africa". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  18. ^ National Society for Human Rights, Ending the Angolan Conflict, Windhoek, Namibia, 3 July 2000
  19. ^ Lucier, James P (29 April 2002). "Chevron oil and the Savimbi problem". Insight on the News. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
  20. ^ M1 Historical Dictionary of Angola by W. Martin James, Susan Herlin Broadhead Archived 12 April 2023 at the Wayback Machine on Google Books
  21. ^ "Angola (1975–2002)" (PDF).

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People's Republic of Angola
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