Angola. In June, the former rebel movement UNITA elected Isaias Samakuva as new chairman after Jonas Savimbi, who was killed by government troops in 2002. UNITA, embedded in the peaceful political life since the end of the 27-year civil war, had provisionally been led by Paulo Lukambo Gato after Savimbi’s death.. Samakuva received 78% of the votes at a party congress. He had previously been the representative of the movement in London and Paris.
Although most of Angola received a long-awaited peace, the war in the enclave Cabinda, separated from the rest of the country by a narrow coastal strip belonging to Congo (Kinshasa), continued. UNITA supported the demand for a referendum on self-government for Cabinda, which was first introduced to Angola in connection with the end of the Portuguese colonial empire. For the Government of Angola, it is vital to keep control of Cabinda, as almost two-thirds of the country’s oil reserves are in the sea off the enclave.
According to Countryaah.com, Angola Independence Day is November 11. The government was placed under increased pressure from the opposition to accelerate the transition to a normal political life after the end of the war. In October, around eighty parties demanded that general elections be held in 2004. The government has promised to hold elections but has not specified a date. Despite the peace, conditions for the civilian population are very difficult. At least 2.7 million Angolans were estimated by the UN to need food aid to survive.
Coup attempt in May 1977
But the political clarification in the MPLA did not happen without internal dispute. Faced with Agostinho Neto’s clear line of independence in foreign policy and pragmatic socialism and anti-racism in domestic politics, a group stood around Nito Alves , the interior minister of the first post-independence government. This group wanted a more dogmatic socialism, stronger association with the Soviet Union and was critical of the fact that mulattos and whites were equated with blacks in the MPLA. After Alves was removed from the Central Committee in May 1977, the group around him tried to conduct a coup. The coup failed when it proved that the people were loyal to President Neto and the majority in the Central Committee. Later, it emerged that Nito Alves was likely to be in charge with groups outside the country – South Africa and Zaire – and that the purpose of the coup attempt was to create the impression of a “civil war” in the MPLA. A “civil war” that foreign powers could intervene in – supported by UNITA/FNLA.
Seven months after the coup attempt – in December 77 – the MPLA conducted its first congress, proclaimed itself a Marxist-Leninist party, and adopted the name Labor Party MPLA. In 1978, the political and economic ties to COMECON were strengthened.
On September 10, 1979, Agostinho Neto died of cancer in Moscow. He was succeeded in the presidential post by Planning Minister José Eduardo dos Santos.
South Africa strikes strategically and Namibia becomes free
After supporting UNITA’s terrorist activity in southern Angola for several years, in August 1981 South Africa even entered the fight directly when they started Operation Smokeshell with 15,000 soldiers, armored personnel carriers and aircraft. They penetrated 200km into the southern Cunene province. The Pretoria government tried to legitimize the attack as an operation against SWAPO guerrilla bases – the liberation movement in Namibia. But the real purpose of South Africa was apparently to create a “liberated zone” where UNITA could install an alternative Angolan government that could receive international recognition.
By this time, however , Cuba had already entered the conflict on the part of the MPLA and by united efforts South Africa’s plan and similar projects were shattered in the following years. The military defeats, international pressure and the rise of the national anti-apartheid movement eventually forced South Africa to start diplomatic negotiations with the MPLA. In December 1988 a tripartite agreement was signed in New York between Angola, South Africa and Cuba. It ended the conflict between Luanda and Pretoria, paved the way for Namibia’s independence and meant that South Africa’s and Cuba’s troops were withdrawn from Angola.
One-party state final
In June 1989, in the presence of 20 African heads of state, UNITA signed a ceasefire agreement in Gbadolite, Zaire, but the ceasefire lasted just under 2 months. At the end of April 1990, envoys from the Angolan government in Lisbon announced the resumption of direct talks with UNITA with a final ceasefire as a perspective. A month later, Jonas Savimbi officially recognized President José Eduardo dos Santos as head of state.
In late 1990, the MPLA announced the implementation of reforms oriented towards the development of democratic socialism. On May 11, 1991, a party law was published that put an end to Angola as a one-party state . On the same occasion, active members of the armed forces, police or judiciary were prohibited from participating in political parties. On May 17, a general political amnesty was declared and six days later the last Cuban military advisers withdrew from the country.