History

Portuguese first landed in northern Angola in 1482. During the course of the 16th century they managed to take control of a coastal strip through series of Treaties and wars. The Dutch occupied Luanda from 1641-48. In 1648, Portuguese forces based in Brazil re-took Luanda. The process of Portuguese military conquests of the Congo and Ndongo states that followed finally ended with a victory in 1671. Full Portuguese administrative control of the territory was achieved at the end of the First World War.

Three independent political movements - MPLA (The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) led by Agostinho Neto, FNLA (the National Front for the Liberation of Angola) led by Holden Roberto and UNITA (The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) led by Jonas Malheiro Savimbi joined hands to fight for the freedom of Angola from the Portuguese. A 1974 coup d’etat in Portugal established a military government that promptly ceased the war and agreed, in the Alvor Accords, to hand over power to a coalition of the three movements in Angola.

Ideological differences among the three movements eventually led to disagreements among them. Encouraged by their respective international proxies, FNLA and UNITA forces attempted to wrest control of Luanda from MPLA. The intervention of troops from South Africa on behalf of UNITA and from Zaire on behalf of FNLA in September and October 1975 and MPLA’s importation of Cuban troops in November 1975 effectively internationalized the internal conflict of Angola at that time. Retaining control of Luanda, the coastal strip and the increasingly lucrative oil fields in Cabinda, MPLA declared independence on November 11, 1975. Agostinho Neto became the first President of an MPLA government that was recognized by the United Nations in 1976. Upon Neto’s death from cancer in 1979, then Planning Minister José Eduardo dos Santos took over the Presidency. The first elections in Angola were held in 1992 under the aegis of the United Nations. Having failed to win the first round of the Presidential elections, UNITA’s Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, who won 42% to dos Santos’s 49%, termed the election fraudulent and returned to guerilla war which continued until his death in combat in February 2002. On April 4, 2002, the MPLA Angolan Government and UNITA signed the Luena Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and on November 21, 2002 declared all outstanding issues resolved.