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Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola

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Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola

MPLA redirects here. It can also refer to the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.
People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party
Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola – Partido do Trabalho
Leader José Eduardo dos Santos
President José Eduardo dos Santos
Secretary-General Julião Mateus Paulo
Slogan Peace, Work and Liberty
Founded December 1, 1956
Headquarters Av. Ho Chi Minh 34, Luanda, Angola
Newspaper Jornal Éme
Youth wing Youth of MPLA
Women's wing Angolan Women's Organization
Ideology Currently:
Social democracy
(self-declared)[1]
Formerly:
Marxism–Leninism
(official)[1]
International affiliation Socialist International
Seats in the National Assembly
Website
http://www.mpla.org/
Party flag
Politics of Angola
Political parties
Elections

The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party (Portuguese: Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola – Partido do Trabalho) 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 UNITA and the FNLA in the decolonization conflict of 1974-75 and the Angolan Civil War of 1975-2002.

Formation

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.[2][3] 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).[4]

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 Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA). The FAPLA later became the national armed forces of the country.

In 1961, the MPLA joined the 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 CONCP replaced FRAIN, adding FRELIMO of Mozambique and the CLSTP, forerunner of the MLSTP of São Tomé and Príncipe.

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 which left profound scars.[5]

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.[6] UNITA declared Angolan independence as the Social Democratic Republic of Angola based in Huambo and the FNLA declared the Democratic Republic of Angola based in Ambriz. These differences reiginited civil war between UNITA and the MPLA. Agostinho Neto became the first president upon independence, and he was succeeded by José Eduardo dos Santos in 1979.


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, fearing another Vietnam-style quagmire.

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.[1]

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. Thousands of people were estimated to have been killed by Cuban and MPLA troops in the aftermath over a period that lasted up to two years, with some estimates claiming as high as 70,000 dead.[7][8][9] 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. 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.[1]

The MPLA was 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.[10][11][12] [13] 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.[14] Human rights observers have accused the MPLA of "genocidal atrocities," "systematic extermination," "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity during the civil war."[15] Rudolph Rummel, an analyst of political killings, estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 Angolans died in the MPLA's democide between 1975 and 1987.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18] In the 2012 legislative election, the party won 71.84% of the vote and 175 of 220 parliamentary seats.[19] According to the 2010 constitution, this implies automatically that José Eduardo dos Santos, who has headed the list of MPLA candidates, is confirmed as State President. A salient feature of the election was the high abstention rate of 37.2%, against 12.4% in 2008. If the void and invalid votes are included in the total, only about 60% of the registered voters opted for any political party, and only about 40% for the MPLA.

Human rights record

The MPLA government of Angola has been accused of human rights violations such as arbitrary arrest and detention and torture[20] by international organisations, including Amnesty International[21] and Human Rights Watch.[22] In response, the MPLA hired Samuels International Associates Inc to help improve Angola's global image.[23]

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, Bulgaria, East Germany,[24] Cape Verde Islands, Czechoslovakia,[25] the Congo, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, North Korea, the People's Republic of Poland, China, Romania, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia,[26] the Soviet Union, Sudan,[25] Tanzania[27], Libya[28] and Yugoslavia. While China did briefly support the MPLA,[29] 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.[30][31]

See also

References

Further reading

  • Inge Brinkmann, War, Witches and Traitors: Cases from the MPLA's Eastern Front in Angola (1966-1975), Journal of African History, 44, 2003, pp. 303–325
  • Mario Albano, Angola: una rivoluzione in marcia, Jaca Book, Milano, 1972

External links

  • (Portuguese) MPLA official site
  • MPLA campaign site

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