Global Policy Forum

Angola's 25 Years of Civil War

Agence France Presse
November 9, 2000


Angola marks the 25th anniversary of its independence from Portugal on Saturday, also marking 25 years of almost nonstop civil war.

Key events of the conflict that has left at least 500,000 people dead are as follows:


Nov 11: Angola wins independence from Portugal but is already wracked by conflict between the pro-Soviet People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), both backed by the United States and Zaire.

Apartheid South Africa had in October sent troops to back UNITA against the MPLA, which had major support from Cuba.


Sept 20: Jose Eduardo dos Santos succeeds the late president Agostinho Neto.


Feb 16: Angola and South Africa sign a deal calling for a South African withdrawal to be completed in 1988.


Aug 8: South Africa, Cuba and Angola agree on ceasefires in Angola and in Namibia as part of a regional peace pact.

Dec 22: The largely US-brokered New York treaty among the same three parties opens the way to Namibian independence and agreement between Cubans and Angolans on the withdrawal of Cuba's 50,000 troops in Angola.


July: Fighting resumes, despite a June 22 ceasefire between the government and UNITA.


March 26-30: New laws introduce multi-party politics and guarantee civil liberties.

May 30: The UN Verification Mission (UNAVEM), in Angola since late 1988, is extended to monitor the ceasefire and organise general elections.

May 31: The government of Dos Santos and the rebels of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi sign peace accords to end the civil war.


Sept 29-30: General and presidential elections take place under UN supervision and are carried by the MPLA.

Dos Santos fails to carry the presidential poll in the first round. Savimbi refuses to admit defeat at the polls and renewed war breaks out.


March 6: UNITA takes control of Angola's second city Huambo, after battling since January in a campaign that left 12,000 dead.

May 19: The United States, which backed UNITA between 1975 and 1991, recognises Dos Santos' regime.

Oct 6: UNITA recognises the 1991 peace deal and the elections' outcome.

Nov 15: Direct negotiations between government and UNITA begin.


March 31: UNITA agrees to a second round of presidential elections as fighting continues.

Nov 20: Government and UNITA representatives in Lusaka sign another ceasefire agreement.


Feb 8: UN Security Council agrees to send a 7,000-strong peacekeeping force to Angola.

May 6: First summit between Dos Santos and Savimbi in Gabon.

May 18: Savimbi declares that he accepts the September 1992 election results and in June he announces "the end of the war in Angola."


Nov 13: Parliament abolishes the post of vice-president after Savimbi refuses to take it up.


April 11: Formation of a national unity and reconciliation government.

Oct 30: The UN imposes sanctions against UNITA for failing to respect the ceasefire.


March 11: UNITA is officially recognized as a political party.

Sept 2: Influential UNITA members split from Savimbi, prompting the government to end its dialogue with UNITA and to recognize only the splinter group.

Late 1998: All-out warfare resumes.


Jan 29: Dos Santos extends his presidential powers.

Feb 26: United Nations ends its observer mission in Angola due to resumed fighting.


March 10: A UN report accuses some African leaders of fueling the war through diamond and arms trading in violation of sanctions.

Aug 18: Intense fighting breaks out in eastern Angola.

Oct 2: MPLA calls off elections due in 2001 because of ongoing fighting, angering opposition parties.

More Information on Angola


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