|Leader||Adalberto Costa Júnior|
|Founded||13 March 1966|
|Youth wing||Revolutionary United Youth of Angola|
|Women's wing||Angolan Women's League|
|Armed wing||FALA (Until 1993)|
|Ideology|| Conservatism |
|Political position|| Right-wing |
|Regional affiliation||Democrat Union of Africa|
|International affiliation||Centrist Democrat International|
|Seats in the National Assembly|
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|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA, Portuguese : União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola) is the second-largest political party in Angola. Founded in 1966, UNITA fought alongside the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the Angolan War for Independence (1961–1975) and then against the MPLA in the ensuing civil war (1975–2002). The war was one of the most prominent Cold War proxy wars, with UNITA receiving military aid initially from People's Republic of China from 1966 until October 1975 and later from the United States and South Africa while the MPLA received support from the Soviet Union and its allies especially Cuba.
Until 1996, UNITA was funded through Angolan diamond mines its northeast Lunda provinces of both Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul along the Cuango River valley especially the Catoca mine which was Angola's only Kimberlite mine at that time.
Valdemar Chidondo served as Chief of Staff in the government of UNITA,pro-Western rebels, during the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002). Jonas Savimbi, leader of UNITA, allegedly ordered Chidondo's assassination.
Savimbi's successor as president of UNITA is Isaías Samakuva. Following Savimbi's death, UNITA abandoned armed struggle and participated in electoral politics. The party won 51 out of 220 seats in the 2017 parliamentary election.
Jonas Savimbi and Antonio da Costa Fernandes founded UNITA on 13 March 1966 in Muangai in Moxico province in Portuguese Angola (during the Estado Novo regime). 200 other delegates were present in the event.UNITA launched its first attack on Portuguese colonial authorities on 25 December 1966.
Savimbi was originally affiliated with Holden Roberto's National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA). UNITA later moved to Jamba in Angola's southeastern province of Cuando Cubango. UNITA's leadership was drawn heavily from Angola's majority Ovimbundu ethnic group and its policies were originally Maoist, perhaps influenced by Savimbi's early training in China. They aimed at rural rights and recognized ethnic divisions. During the 1980s, however, UNITA became more aligned with the United States under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and South Africa, espousing support for capitalism in Angola.After the 1992 Angolan general election, UNITA lost its support from the United States and was only supported by South Africa.
After the Portuguese withdrawal from Angola in 1974–75 and the end of their colonial rule, the MPLA and UNITA splintered, and civil war began as the movements clashed militarily and ideologically. MPLA leader Agostinho Neto became the first president of post-colonial Angola. Backed by Soviet and Cuban money, weapons and troops, the MPLA defeated the FNLA militarily and forced them largely into exile.UNITA also was nearly destroyed in November 1975, but it managed to survive and set up a second government, the Democratic People's Republic of Angola, in the provincial capital of Huambo. UNITA was hard-pressed but recovered with South African aid and then was strengthened considerably by U.S. support during the 1980s. The MPLA's military presence was strongest in Angolan cities, the coastal region and the strategic oil fields. But UNITA controlled much of the highland's interior, notably the Bié Plateau, and other strategic regions of the country. Up to 300,000 Angolans died in the civil war.
|Covert United States involvement in regime change|
|1949 Syrian coup d'état|
|1953 Iranian coup d'état|
|1954 Guatemalan coup d'état|
|1956–57 Syria crisis|
|1957–58 Indonesian rebellion|
|1959–2000 Cuba, assassination attempts on Fidel Castro|
|1959 Cambodian "Bangkok Plot"|
|1960 Congo coup|
|1961 Cuba, Bay of Pigs Invasion|
|1961 Cuba, Operation Mongoose|
|1961 Dominican Republic|
|1963 South Vietnamese coup|
|1964 Bolivian coup d'état|
|1964 Brazilian coup d'état|
|1966 Ghana coup d'état|
|1971 Bolivian coup d'état|
|1976 Argentine coup d'état|
|1979–89 Afghanistan, Operation Cyclone|
|1980–92 Angola, UNITA|
|1981–87 Nicaragua, Contras|
|1996 Iraq coup attempt|
| 2011–2017 Syria, Timber Sycamore |
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Savimbi sought out vastly expanded relations with the U.S. He received considerable guidance from The Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative research institute in Washington, D.C. that maintained strong relations with both the Reagan administration and the U.S. Congress. Michael Johns, the Heritage Foundation's leading expert on Africa and Third World Affairs issues, visited Savimbi in his clandestine southern Angolan base camps, offering the UNITA leader both tactical military and political advice.
In 1986, U.S. conservatives convinced President Ronald Reagan to meet with Savimbi at the White House. While the meeting itself was confidential, Reagan emerged from it with support and enthusiasm for Savimbi's efforts, stating that he could envision a UNITA "victory that electrifies the world," suggesting that Reagan saw the outcome of the Angolan conflict as critical to his entire Reagan Doctrine foreign policy, consisting of support for anti-communist resistance movements in Central America, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere.
Under Savimbi's leadership, UNITA proved especially effective militarily before and after independence, becoming one of the world's most effective armed resistance movements of the late 20th century. According to the U.S. State Department, UNITA came to control "vast swaths of the interior (of Angola)".Savimbi's very survival in Angola in and of itself was viewed as an incredible accomplishment, and he came to be known as "Africa's most enduring bush fighter" given assassination attempts, aided by extensive Soviet, Cuban, and East German military troops, advisors and support, that he survived.
As Savimbi gained ground despite the forces aligned against him, American conservatives pointed to his success, and that of Afghan mujahideen and the Nicaraguan contras, all of which, with U.S. support, were successfully opposing Soviet-sponsored governments, as evidence that the U.S. was beginning to gain an upper hand in the Cold War conflict and that the Reagan Doctrine was working. Critics, on the other hand, responded that the support given to UNITA, the contras, and the Afghan mujahideen was inflaming regional conflicts at great expense to these nations. Furthermore, UNITA, like the Angolan government it fought, was criticized for human rights abuses.
UNITA gained some international notoriety in 1983 after abducting 66 Czechoslovak civilians and detaining a third of them for about 15 months.Belgium eventually negotiated the release of the civilians. Fighting in Angola continued until 1989, when, with UNITA advancing militarily, Cuba withdrew its support, removing several thousand troops that it had dispatched to Angola to fight Savimbi's UNITA. With many commentators and foreign policy specialists seeing that the Cold War might be drawing to an end, Savimbi's U.S. support, which had been strong, began to be questioned, with some in Congress urging the end of U.S. support for UNITA. Matters were further complicated by repeated reports that Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev had raised U.S. support for UNITA in several formal and informal summit meetings with President George H. W. Bush, placing further pressure on the U.S. to end its support for UNITA.
As the war began to include both military and diplomatic components, Johns and leading U.S. conservatives urged Savimbi to make a ceasefire contingent on the MPLA's agreement to "free and fair elections."When the UNITA demand was originally rebuffed by the MPLA, Savimbi vastly intensified his military pressure, while alleging that the MPLA was resisting free and fair elections because they feared a UNITA electoral victory. Meanwhile, an agreement was reached that provided for the removal of foreign troops from Angola in exchange for the independence of Namibia from South Africa. In Angola, however, Savimbi told Johns and conservative leader Howard Phillips that he had not felt adequately consulted on the negotiations or agreement and was in opposition to it. "There are a lot of loopholes in that agreement. The agreement is not good at all," Johns reported Savimbi telling both of them during a March 1989 visit with Savimbi in Angola."
A ceasefire ultimately was negotiated and MPLA leader José Eduardo dos Santos and the MPLA's Central Committee rejected its Marxist past and agreed to Savimbi's demand for free and fair elections, though UNITA and its supporters viewed the promises skeptically, especially because the MPLA's relations with the Soviet Union remained strong.
Following the 1991 Bicesse Accords, signed in Lisbon, United Nations-brokered elections were held, with both Savimbi and dos Santos running for President in 1992. Failing to win an overall majority in the first round of balloting, and then questioning the election's legitimacy, Savimbi and UNITA returned to armed conflict. Fighting resumed in October 1992 in Huambo, quickly spreading to Angola's capital, Luanda. It was here that Jeremias Chitunda, UNITA's long-time vice-president and other UNITA officials were killed while fleeing the city culminating in the Halloween Massacre. Following Chitunda's death, UNITA defensively moved their base from Jamba to Huambo. Savimbi's 1992 decision to return to combat ultimately proved a costly one, with many of Savimbi's U.S. conservative allies urging Savimbi to contest dos Santos electorally in the run-off election. Savimbi's decision to forego the run-off also greatly strained UNITA's relations with U.S. President George H. W. Bush.
As Savimbi resumed fighting, the U.N. responded by implementing an embargo against UNITA through United Nations Security Council Resolution 1173. The UN-commissioned Fowler Report detailed how UNITA continued to finance its war effort through the sales of diamonds (later to be known as blood diamonds)and resulted in further sanctions in the form of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1295 and action to end to the trade in blood diamonds through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. In late 1992 following the general elections, the U.S. government, which had never recognized the legitimacy of the MPLA, finally recognized the Angolan government and stopped supporting UNITA, further alienating Savimbi. After failed talks in 1993 to end the conflict, another agreement, the Lusaka Protocol, was implemented in 1994 to form a government of national unity. In 1995, U.N. peacekeepers arrived. But UNITA broke away from the Lusaka agreement in 1998, citing violations of it by the MPLA. In late 1998, a militant group calling itself UNITA Renovada broke away from mainstream UNITA, when several UNITA commanders dissatisfied with the leadership of Jonas Savimbi ended their allegiance to his organization. Thousands more deserted UNITA in 1999 and 2000.
In 1999, a MPLA military offensive damaged UNITA considerably, essentially destroying UNITA as a conventional military force and forcing UNITA to return to more traditional guerilla tactics.
The Angolan civil war ended only after the death of Savimbi, who was killed in an ambush on 22 February 2002. His death was shocking to many Angolans, many of whom had grown up during the Angolan civil war and witnessed Savimbi's ability to successfully evade efforts by Soviet, Cuban and Angolan troops to kill him.
Six weeks following Savimbi's death, in April 2002, UNITA agreed to a ceasefire with the government. Under an amnesty agreement, UNITA soldiers and their families, comprising roughly 350,000 people, were gathered in 33 demobilisation camps under the "Program For Social and Productive Reintegration of Demobilized and War Displaced People". In August 2002, UNITA officially gave up its armed wing, and UNITA placed all of its efforts on the development of its political party. Despite the ceasefire, deep political conflict between UNITA and the MPLA remains.
Savimbi was immediately succeeded by António Dembo, who died shortly after Savimbi. Following Dembo, in elections contested by General Paulo Lukamba, Dinho Chingunji and Isaías Samakuva, Samakuva won the UNITA election and emerged as UNITA's current president.
In November 2019, Isaias Samakuva resigned as president and was replaced by Adalberto Costa Júnior.
UNITA received support from several governments in Africa and around the world, including Bulgaria,Egypt, France, Israel, Morocco, the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Zaire, and Zambia.
During the Reagan administration high ranking security officials met with UNITA leaders. Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Casey, National Security Advisor Richard Allen, and Secretary of State Alexander Haig, on 6 March met with Unita leaders in Washington, D.C. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walker met with Savimbi in March in Rabat, Morocco. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, his assistant for International Security Matters Francis West, Deputy Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, Deputy Director of the CIA Bobby Inman, and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency James Williams met with Savimbi between November 1981 and January 1982. Although the Clark Amendment forbid U.S. involvement in the civil war, Secretary Haig told Savimbi in December 1981 that the U.S. would continue to provide assistance to UNITA.
The U.S. government "explicitly encouraged" the governments of Israel, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Zaire to aid UNITA. In 1983 the U.S. and South African governments agreed to ship weapons from the Honduras, Belgium and Switzerland to South Africa and then to UNITA in Angola. The U.S. also traded weapons with South Africa for intelligence on the civil war.
Savimbi benefited from the support of influential American conservatives, including The Heritage Foundation's Michael Johns and other U.S. conservative leaders, who helped elevate Savimbi's stature in Washington and promoted the transfer of American weapons to his war.
Johns and other American conservatives met regularly with Savimbi in remote Jamba, culminating in the "Democratic International" in 1985. Savimbi later drew the praise of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who hailed him as a freedom fighter and spoke of Savimbi winning a victory that "electrifies the world" while others hinted at a much darker regime, dismissing Savimbi as a power-hungry propagandist.
After the 1992 Angolan general election, UNITA lost its support from the United States and was only supported by South Africa.
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Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a country on the west coast of Southern 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.
Angola is a country in southwestern Africa. The country's name derives from the Kimbundu word for king. It was first settled by San hunter-gatherer societies before the northern domains came under the rule of Bantu states such as Kongo and Ndongo. From the 15th century, Portuguese colonists began trading, and a settlement was established at Luanda during the 16th century. Portugal annexed territories in the region which were ruled as a colony from 1655, and Angola was incorporated as an overseas province of Portugal in 1951. After the Angolan War of Independence, which ended in April 1974 with an army mutiny and leftist coup in Lisbon, Angola achieved independence on November 11, 1975 through the Alvor Agreement. A few months before independence, Angola entered a period of civil war that lasted up until 2002.
Jonas Malheiro Savimbi was an Angolan revolutionary politician and military leader who founded and led the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, for some years called the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party, 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.
José Eduardo dos Santos is an Angolan politician who served as President of Angola from 1979 to 2017. As President, José Eduardo dos Santos was also the commander in chief of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and President of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the party that has ruled Angola since it gained independence in 1975. He was the second-longest-serving president in Africa, surpassed only by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, who took power less than two months before dos Santos.
The National Front for the Liberation of Angola is a political party and former militant organisation that fought for Angolan independence from Portugal in the war of independence, under the leadership of Holden Roberto.
Isaías Henrique Ngola Samakuva is an Angolan politician who was the President of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) from June 2003 to November 2019.
The Angolan Civil War was a civil war in Angola, beginning in 1975 and continuing, with interludes, until 2002. The war began immediately after Angola became independent from Portugal in November 1975. The war was a power struggle between two former anti-colonial guerrilla movements, the communist People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the anti-communist National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The war was used as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War by rival states such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, South Africa and the United States.
Jamba is a town in Angola, located in the southeastern province of Cuando Cubango, just north of the Namibian border along the Caprivi Strip.
Angola – United States relations are diplomatic relations between the Republic of Angola and the United States of America. These relations were tense during the Angolan Civil War when the U.S. government backed National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebels, but have warmed since the Angolan government renounced Communism in 1992.
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.
The Alvor Agreement, signed on 15 January 1975, granted Angola independence from Portugal on 11 November and ended the 13-year-long Angolan War of Independence.
The 1970s in Angola, a time of political and military turbulence, saw the end of Angola's War of Independence (1961–1975) and the outbreak of civil war (1975–2002). Agostinho Neto, the leader of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), declared the independence of the People's Republic of Angola on November 11, 1975, in accordance with the Alvor Accords. UNITA and the FNLA also declared Angolan independence as the Social Democratic Republic of Angola based in Huambo and the Democratic Republic of Angola based in Ambriz. FLEC, armed and backed by the French government, declared the independence of the Republic of Cabinda from Paris. The National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) forged an alliance on November 23, proclaiming their own coalition government based in Huambo with Holden Roberto and Jonas Savimbi as co-presidents and José Ndelé and Johnny Pinnock Eduardo as co-Prime Ministers.
In the 1980s in Angola, fighting spread outward from the southeast, where most of the fighting had taken place in the 1970s, as the African National Congress (ANC) and SWAPO increased their activity. The South African government responded by sending troops back into Angola, intervening in the war from 1981 to 1987, prompting the Soviet Union to deliver massive amounts of military aid from 1981 to 1986. The USSR gave the Angolan government over US$2 billion in aid in 1984. In 1981, newly elected United States President Ronald Reagan's U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Chester Crocker, developed a linkage policy, tying Namibian independence to Cuban withdrawal and peace in Angola.
Angola–South Africa relations refer to the current and historical relationship between Angola and South Africa. Relations in the post-apartheid era are quite strong as the ruling parties in both states, the African National Congress in South Africa and the MPLA in Angola, fought together during the Angolan Civil War and South African Border War. They fought against UNITA rebels, based in Angola, and the apartheid-era government in South Africa which supported them. Nelson Mandela mediated between the MPLA and UNITA during the final years of the Angolan Civil War. Although South Africa was preponderant in terms of relative capabilities during the late twentieth century, the recent growth of Angola has led to a more balanced relation.
The Cuban intervention in Angola began on 5 November 1975, when Cuba sent combat troops in support of the Communist aligned People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) against United States-backed interventions by South Africa and Zaire in support of two Pro-Western independence movements competing for power in the country, with the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). 4,000 Cuban troops helped to turn back a three-pronged advance of the South Africans, Zairean regulars and mercenaries from Britain, the U.S., Portugal, and Rhodesia. Later, 18,000 Cuban troops defeated the FNLA in the north and UNITA in the south. Separatists from the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) fought the Cubans but were defeated. In 1976, the Cuban military in Angola reached 36,000 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. South Africa spent the following decade launching bombing and strafing raids from its bases in South West Africa into southern Angola, while UNITA engaged in ambushes, hit-and-run attacks, and harassment of Cuban units.
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.
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 1990s in Angola, the last decade of the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002), the Angolan government transitioned from a nominally communist state to a nominally democratic one, a move made possible by political changes abroad and military victories at home. Namibia's declaration of independence, internationally recognized on April 1, eliminated the southwestern front of combat as South African forces withdrew to the east. The MPLA abolished the one-party system in June and rejected Marxist-Leninism at the MPLA's third Congress in December, formally changing the party's name from the MPLA-PT to the MPLA. The National Assembly passed law 12/91 in May 1991, coinciding with the withdrawal of the last Cuban troops, defining Angola as a "democratic state based on the rule of law" with a multi-party system.
This article deals with the activities of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Angola. The list of activities may be incomplete due to the clandestine nature of the subject matter.