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People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola

Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola
Chairman João Lourenço
Secretary-General Paulo Kassoma [1]
Founder Agostinho Neto, Viriato da Cruz
Founded10 December 1956 (1956-12-10)
Merger of PLUA, MINE and PCA
Headquarters Luanda, Angola
NewspaperJornal de Angola
Youth wing Youth of MPLA
Women's wing Angolan Women's Organization
Paramilitary wing FAPLA (integrated into Angolan Armed Forces)
Ideology Democratic socialism [2]
1977 to 1991:
Left-wing nationalism
Political position Centre-left to left-wing
1977 to 1991:
International affiliation Socialist International
African affiliation Former Liberation Movements of Southern Africa
SloganPeace, Work and Liberty
National Assembly
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Pan-African Parliament
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Party flag
Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (bandeira).svg

The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, for some years called the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party (Portuguese : Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola – Partido do Trabalho, MPLA), is a political party that has ruled Angola since the country's independence from Portugal in 1975. The MPLA fought against the Portuguese army in the Angolan War of Independence of 1961–74, and defeated the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), two other anti-colonial movements, in the Angolan Civil War of 1975–2002.

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

A political party is an organized group of people who have the same ideology, or who otherwise have the same political positions, and who field candidates for elections, in an attempt to get them elected and thereby implement the party's agenda.

Angola Country in Africa

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a west-coast country of south-central Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola has an exclave province, the province of Cabinda that borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda.



On December 10, 1956, in Estado Novo-ruled Portuguese Angola, the tiny underground Angolan Communist Party (PCA) merged with the Party of the United Struggle for Africans in Angola (PLUA) to form the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, with Viriato da Cruz, the President of the PCA, as Secretary General. [3] [4] Later other groups merged into MPLA, such as Movement for the National Independence of Angola (MINA) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Angola (FDLA). [5]

<i>Estado Novo</i> (Portugal) 1933-1974 authoritarian regime in Portugal

The Estado Novo, or the Second Republic, was the corporatist far-right regime installed in Portugal in 1933, which was considered clerical fascist. It evolved from the Ditadura Nacional formed after the coup d'état of 28 May 1926 against the democratic and unstable First Republic. Together, the Ditadura Nacional and the Estado Novo are recognised as the Second Portuguese Republic. The Estado Novo, greatly inspired by conservative and autocratic ideologies, was developed by António de Oliveira Salazar, President of the Council of Ministers of Portugal from 1932 to 1968, when illness forced him out of office. After 1945, his corporatist economic model was less and less useful and it retarded economic modernization.

Portuguese Angola 1575-1975 Portuguese possession in West Africa

Portuguese Angola refers to Angola during the historic period when it was a territory under Portuguese rule in southwestern Africa. In the same context, it was known until 1951 as Portuguese West Africa.

Angolan Communist Party was an underground political party in Portuguese Angola, founded in October 1955, under influence from the Portuguese Communist Party. PCA was led by the brothers Mário Pinto de Andrade and Joaquim Pinto de Andrade. PCA set up clandestine schools and libraries in Luanda, and established branches in Catete and Malanje.

The MPLA's core base includes the Ambundu ethnic group and the educated intelligentsia of the capital city, Luanda. The party formerly had links to European and Soviet communist parties but is now a full-member of the Socialist International grouping of social democratic parties. The armed wing of MPLA was the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA). The FAPLA later became the national armed forces of the country.

Ambundu ethnic group

The Northern Mbundu or Ambundu are a Bantu people living in Angola's North-West, North of the river Kwanza. The Ambundu speak Kimbundu, and mostly also the official language of the country, Portuguese. They are the second biggest ethnic group in the country, with 2.4 million people in the latest count The Ambundu nowadays live in the region stretching to the East from Angola's capital city of Luanda. They are predominant in the Bengo and Malanje provinces and in neighbouring parts of the Cuanza Norte and Cuanza Sul provinces. The head of the main Mbundu kingdom was called a Ngola, which is the origin of the name of the country Angola.

The intelligentsia is a status class of educated people engaged in the complex mental labours that critique, guide, and lead in shaping the culture and politics of their society. As a status class, the intelligentsia includes artists, teachers and academics, writers, journalists, and the literary hommes de lettres.

Luanda City in Angola

Luanda, formerly named São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda, is the capital and largest city in Angola, It is Angola's primary port, and its major industrial, cultural and urban centre. Located on Angola's northern coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and its administrative centre. It is also the capital city of Luanda Province. Luanda and its metropolitan area is the most populous Portuguese-speaking capital city in the world, with over 8 million inhabitants in 2019. Among the oldest colonial cities of Africa, it was founded in January 1576 by Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais, under the name of São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda. The city served as the centre of the slave trade to Brazil before its prohibition. At the start of the Angolan Civil War in 1975, most of the white Portuguese left as refugees, principally for Portugal. Luanda's population increased greatly from refugees fleeing the war, but its infrastructure was inadequate to handle the increase. This also caused the exacerbation of slums, or musseques, around Luanda. The city is currently undergoing a major reconstruction, with many large developments taking place that will alter its cityscape significantly.

In 1961, the MPLA joined the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), its fraternal party in Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde, in direct combat against the Portuguese empire in Africa. The following year, the expanded umbrella group Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP) replaced FRAIN, adding FRELIMO of Mozambique and the CLSTP, forerunner of the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP).

African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde political party

The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde is a political party in Guinea-Bissau. Originally formed to peacefully campaign for independence from Portugal, the party turned to armed conflict in the 1960s and was one of the belligerents in the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence. Towards the end of the war, the party established a Marxist–Leninist one-party state, which remained intact until multi-party democracy was introduced in the early 1990s. Although the party won the first multi-party elections in 1994, it was removed from power in the 1999–2000 elections. However, it returned to office after winning parliamentary elections in 2004 and presidential elections in 2005, since which it has remained the largest party in the National People's Assembly.

A fraternal party is a political party officially affiliated with another, often larger or international, political party or governmental party, or several of them, notably when these share a political ideology.

Guinea-Bissau country in Western Africa

Guinea-Bissau, officially the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, is a country in West Africa that covers 36,125 square kilometres (13,948 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,815,698.

In the early 1970s, the MPLA's guerrilla activities were more and more reduced, due to the "counter-insurgency" campaigns of the Portuguese military. At the same time, internal conflicts caused the movement to temporarily split up into three factions (Ala Presicencialista, Revolta Activa and Revolta do Leste) – a situation which was overcome in 1974/75, but left profound scars. [6]

Independence and civil war

The Carnation Revolution in Lisbon, Portugal in 1974 established a military government that promptly ceased anti-independence fighting in Angola and agreed to hand over power to a coalition of three pro-independence Angolan movements. The coalition quickly broke down and the newly independent Angola broke into a state of civil war. Maintaining control over Luanda and the lucrative oil fields of the Atlantic coastline, Agostinho Neto, the leader of the MPLA, declared the independence of the Portuguese Overseas Province of Angola as the People's Republic of Angola on November 11, 1975, in accordance with the Alvor Accords. [7] UNITA and FNLA together declared Angolan independence in Huambo. These differences reignited civil war between UNITA & FNLA and the MPLA, with the latter winning the upper hand. Agostinho Neto became the first president upon independence, and he was succeeded after his death by José Eduardo dos Santos in 1979.

Carnation Revolution revolution

The Carnation Revolution, also known as the 25 April, was initially a 25 April 1974 military coup in Lisbon which overthrew the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. The revolution began as a coup organised by the Armed Forces Movement, composed of military officers who opposed the regime, but it was soon coupled with an unanticipated, popular civil resistance campaign. The revolution led to the fall of the Estado Novo, the end of 48 years of authoritarian rule in Portugal, and Portugal's withdrawal from its African colonies.

Lisbon Capital city in Lisbon metropolitan area, Portugal

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal. With an estimated population of 505,526 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2, Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 3 million people live in the Lisbon metropolitan area, including the Portuguese Riviera,. It is mainland Europe's westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

MPLA poster. The slogan translates as "Victory is certain". Mpla.jpg
MPLA poster. The slogan translates as "Victory is certain".

In 1974/76, South Africa intervened militarily in favor of FNLA and UNITA, and Zaire and the United States also heavily aided the two groups. Cuba deployed thousands of troops in 1975 to aid the MPLA against South African intervention, with the Soviet Union aiding both Cuba and the MPLA government during the war. In November 1980, the MPLA had all but pushed UNITA into the bush, and the South African forces withdrew. The United States Congress barred further U.S. military involvement in the country against the wishes of President Ronald Reagan, fearing another Vietnam-style quagmire. In 1976 the FNLA withdrew its troops to their bases in Zaire, while part of them joined the 32 Battalion formed by South Africa in order to receive anti-MPLA Angolans.

At its first congress, in 1977, the MPLA adopted Marxism–Leninism as the party ideology and added Partido do Trabalho (Labour Party) to its name. [2]

After Nito Alves's attempted coup in 1977, Neto ordered the killing of suspected followers and sympathisers of "orthodox communism" inside and outside the party. During the coup, Cuban forces stationed in Angola sided with the MPLA leadership against the coup organizers. [8] Estimates for the number of Nito Alves followers killed by Cuban and MPLA troops in the aftermath, range from 2,000 to 70,000 dead, with some placing the death toll at 18,000 killed. [9] [10] [11] After the violent internal conflict called Fractionism, it made it clear that it would follow the socialist, not the communist, model. However, it maintained close ties with the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc, establishing socialist economic policies and a one-party state [ citation needed ]. Several thousand Cuban troops remained in the country to combat UNITA fighters and bolster the regime's security.

In 1990, when the Cold War ended, MPLA abandoned its Marxist–Leninist ideology and on its third congress, in December, the party declared social democracy to be its official ideology. [2]

The MPLA emerged victorious in Angola's 1992 general election, but eight opposition parties rejected the election as rigged. UNITA sent negotiators to the Luanda, where they were killed. As a consequence, hostilities erupted in the city, and immediately spread to other parts of the country. Tens of thousands of UNITA and FNLA sympathizers were subsequently killed nationwide by MPLA forces, in what is known as the Halloween Massacre, and the civil war resumed. [12] [13] [14] [15] The war continued until 2002, when UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed. The two parties promptly agreed to a ceasefire, and a plan was laid out for UNITA to demobilize and become a political party. Over 500,000 civilians were killed during the civil war. [16] Human rights observers have accused the MPLA of "genocidal atrocities," "systematic extermination," "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity during the civil war." [17] Political scientist Rudolph Rummel estimated that the MPLA were responsible for between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in democide from 1975 to 1987. [18]

Electoral history

In the 1992 elections, MPLA-PT won 53.74% of the votes and 129 out of 227 seats in parliament; however, eight opposition parties rejected the 1992 elections as rigged. [19] In the next election, delayed until 2008 due to the civil war, the MPLA won 81.64% of the vote and 191 out of 220 parliamentary seats. [20] In the 2012 legislative election, the party won 71.84% of the vote and 175 of 220 parliamentary seats. [21]

Presidential Elections

Election dateParty candidateNumber of votes receivedPercentage of votesResult
1992 José Eduardo dos Santos 1,953,33549.57%Elected

National Assembly Elections

1992 2,124,12653.7
129 / 220
-1stMajority gov't
2008 5,266,21681.6
191 / 220
Increase2.svg 62Steady2.svg 1stMajority gov't
2012 4,135,50371.8
175 / 220
Decrease2.svg 16Steady2.svg 1stMajority gov't
2017 4,907,05761.1
150 / 220
Decrease2.svg 25Steady2.svg 1stMajority gov't

Human rights record

The MPLA government of Angola has been accused of human rights violations such as arbitrary arrest and detention and torture [22] by international organisations, including Amnesty International [23] and Human Rights Watch. [24] In response, the MPLA hired Samuels International Associates Inc to help improve Angola's global image. [25]

Party organizations

At present, major mass organizations of the MPLA-PT include the Organização da Mulher Angolana (Angolan Women's Organization), União Nacional dos Trabalhadores Angolanos (National Union of Angolan Workers), Organização de Pioneiros de Agostinho Neto (Agostinho Neto Pioneer Organization), and the Juventude do MPLA (Youth of MPLA).

Foreign support

During both the Portuguese Colonial War and the Angolan Civil War, the MPLA received military and humanitarian support primarily from the governments of Algeria, the Bulgarian People's Republic, East Germany, [26] Cape Verde Islands, Communist Czechoslovakia, [27] the Congo, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, the Mozambican People's Republic, Nigeria, North Korea, the Polish People's Republic, China, the Romanian Socialist Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, [28] the Soviet Union, Sudan, [27] Tanzania, [29] Libya [30] and Communist Yugoslavia. While China did briefly support the MPLA, [31] it also actively supported the MPLA's enemies, the FNLA and later UNITA, during the war for independence and the civil war. The switch was the result of tensions between China and the Soviet Union for dominance of the communist bloc, which almost led to war. [32] [33]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Angolan War of Independence conflict in Angola between 1961 and 1975

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Lúcio Lara served as General Secretary of the MPLA during the Angolan War of Independence and Angolan Civil War. Lara, a founding member of the MPLA, led the first MPLA members into Luanda on November 8, 1974. He swore in Agostinho Neto as the first president of the country.

1992 Angolan general election

General elections were held in Angola on 29 and 30 September 1992 to elect a President and National Assembly, the first time free and multi-party elections had been held in the country. They followed the signing of the Bicesse Accord on 31 May 1991 in an attempt to end the 17-year-long civil war. Voter turnout was 91.3% for the parliamentary election and 91.2% for the presidential election.

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The Military history of Angola is marked by a series of conflicts rooted in colonialism and the political mood of the Cold War. During the Cold War, Angola would be involved in struggles against Western powers and South Africa with the help of the Soviet Union and Cuba.

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Cuban intervention in Angola

In November 1975, on the eve of Angola's independence, Cuba launched a large-scale military intervention in support of the leftist People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) against United States-backed interventions by South Africa and Zaire in support of two right-wing independence movements competing for power in the country, the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). By the end of 1975 the Cuban military in Angola numbered more than 25,000 troops. Following the withdrawal of Zaire and South Africa, Cuban forces remained in Angola to support the MPLA government against UNITA in the continuing Angolan Civil War.

Angola–Cuba relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Angola and the Republic of Cuba

Angola-Cuba diplomatic relations refers to the historical and current bilateral relationship between Angola and Cuba. During Angola's civil war, Cuban forces fought alongside the Marxist–Leninist People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government; against the Western-backed National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) guerrillas who were aided by the South-African army. The present day outcome of the war resulted in the MPLA changing from a Marxist–Leninist party to a multi-party democratic system based on Neoliberal principles. From an economic stand point, Cuba has lost its preferred status among Angolans and South Africa has become the biggest single investor and trading partner with Angola.

Angola–Soviet Union relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Angola and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Soviet–Angolan relations were close until the Angolan government renounced Marxist-Leninism in 1990 and adopted a pro-Western foreign policy. The close, personal relationship between President Agostinho Neto and Cuban leader Fidel Castro complicated the Soviet Union's involvement in the Angolan Civil War and foiled several assassination attempts against Neto.

In the Angola–Cuba Declaration of 1984, signed 19 March 1984 in Havana by president José Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola and Fidel Castro, premier of Cuba, the two countries agreed to the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola after the withdrawal of South African troops from Angola and Namibia, and after UN-Security Council resolution 435 on Namibian independence was strictly applied.

The Battle of Quifangondo occurred on 10 November 1975, the day before the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) declared Angola's independence from Portugal. It can be considered the first battle in the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002).

1986 Angolan legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Angola on 9 December 1986. They had been scheduled for 1983, but were postponed due to the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola's (UNITA) military gains in the civil war. The elections were the second elections conducted in the nation after in got independence from Portugal in 1975 and after the 1980 elections. During the period of 1975 to 1980, a civil war was fought between three parties, namely, People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the disturbance continued to the 90s.

1980 Angolan legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Angola in 1980. Beginning on 23 August, voters elected electoral colleges, which in turn, elected 229 candidates to the National Assembly. The elections were the first democratic elections conducted in the nation after in got independence from Portugal in 1975. During the period of 1975 to 1980, a civil war was fought between three parties, namely, People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

Fractionism was a political movement in Angola during the 1970s.


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Further reading