Jonas Savimbi And The Angolan Civil War

Angola, a country with a population of about 32 million people located on the South West of the African continent is bordered by Namibia on the south, Zambia on the east, Pacific Ocean on the western front, Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo on the Northern part with Luanda being its capital city. Angola attained its independence on the year 1975 from the Portuguese and after that it dived deep into a civil war that lasted for more than two decades, its adverse effect left millions of people dead as the economy came down crumbling on its knees. But what exactly steered the Angolan civil war?

The Angolan war broke out in 1974 resultant to differences between three factions that were all questing for power after the Portuguese left. The MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) camped at the center in Luanda and they were headed by Agostinho Neto, FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola) started a separist movement and so they camped in the Northern part of Angola and they were led by Holden Roberto, and then there was UNITA (National Union for Total Independence of Angola) which emerged in 1966 and it was led by Jonas Savimbi who left FNLA so as to create his own liberation movement. FNLA and UNITA was supported by South Africa, USA, China, and Zaire where Mobutu Sese Seko was the leader as MPLA was backed by Cuba and Soviet Union. This was attributed to the failure of the ruling party to stick to the power sharing agreement. The FNLA team was later on disintegrated after being driven out of Luanda by MPLA thus making MPLA to be recognized as the Angolan government. UNITA led by Savimbi continued to pursue Guerilla war from the south from where they received immense support from South Africa who feared the communism angle MPLA was driving.

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On the 11th of November 1975 the year Angola attained its independence, Agostinho Neto became the first President and served up to 1979 before his untimely death. Jose Eduardo Dos Santos succeeded him as Angola’s second President. The civil war continued up to 1991 until a temporary agreement was reached. The agreement was that both the South African and Cuban troops should leave Angola and that multi- party election was to be introduced. The following year, Angola held elections as Jonas Savimbi of UNITA contested against Dos Santos of MPLA. Dos Santos won with about 49% of the vote as Savimbi bagged 40% of the total votes casted. Savimbi disputed the election results and so again launched a guerilla war against MPLA. Angola is notably rich with minerals like diamond, oil, and copper and so UNITA and MPLA used such resources in exchange of fire arms and army troops.

Jonas Savimbi proved to be much stronger as he led UNITA in several wars with a no retreat no surrender mind. He was once part of the FNLA untill he decided to part way and form UNITA. Savimbi championed for the removal of the MPLA government for he believed Angola did not attain total independence as the government were puppets of the Portuguese. In 1994 two years after the temporary agreement was brokered but not honored, another agreement was signed in Zambia by UNITA and MPLA and it was known as the Lusaka peace accord. As per the agreement, the parties agreed to form a transitional government however minor fights for total power still continued. Due to the ongoing war which MPLA was determined to put to an end, President Dos Santos offered Savimbi to be the Vice President and the national union for the total independence of Angola but he declined and reason as to why still remains scanty. UNITA started experiencing internal wrangles as some shifted to MPLA and so Savimbi’s UNITA movement was weakened.

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Now that Savimbi declined President Dos Santos offer, he was a treated as a rebel in Angola because he defied negotiations and peace and so efforts to pursue him was launched with immediate effect. In realization that his party’s strength UNITA was weakening, Savimbi decided to agree with the Lusaka peace accord but that was too late as he was found and killed, that was on 22nd of February 2002. UNITA and MPLA later on in the same year in April signed a peace agreement that put an end to the civil war that lasted for 27 years.

Joao Lorenco is the third and current President of Angola. Angola has several tribes including Nganganguela, Bakongo, Lunda- Chokwe, with Omvimbundu being the largest ethnic group.



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