MPLA formerly supported by Cuba and Soviet Union

UNITA supported by South Africa & US







There was a long guerrilla war against the Portuguese colonisers. Since independence in 1975 there has been a war going on between at first three, then two, guerrilla groups one of which (MPLA) declared itself the government.

Angola is ethnically divided like most African states. The southerners supported a group known as UNITA (Union for the Total Independence of Angola) and the northerners, mostly Bakongo, support MPLA (Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola).

Superimposed on this ethnic conflict was the Cold War division. In the past MPLA received help from the Soviet Union and troops from Cuba. UNITA has received covert support from the United States and more open support from South Africa.

By 1991 the changes in the external powers (end of the Cold War) made it seem that the war would be settled by negotiation.

The Soviet Union withdrew and no longer paid for arms. South Africa also withdrew its troops as negotiations took place for a transfer of power to the majority. An agreement was signed in May 1991 and a coalition government seemed likely.

Resumption of the War
However, when elections in October 1992 occurred, the MPLA won but UNITA failed to accept the result and resumed the war. As in Mozambique it seems that the rebel troops are not under control. Much of the country is in the same state as Somalia - a Hobbesian condition of the absence of civil society. The war became even more ferocious. Are South African elements still helping UNITA? There is some evidence they were until the 1994 election. "Peace" was agreed Nov. 1994. Nothing happened.

During 1996 new agreements gave some hope of finally ending the war. The war resumed as bad as ever in 1998.
The death of Savimbi in February 2002 may have caused the war to end. The government has ordered a ceasefire.
However, the destruction of the country caused during the war, especially the millions of landmines planted all over, will take a long time to cure.

Last revised 6/12/07


World Info


Return to the top

eXTReMe Tracker