Today in History: Alvor Agreement and Angola’s independence

BY MATTHEW COLLINS - JANUARY 15, 2015

On the 15th of January 1975, the Alvor Agreement was signed between the then Portuguese government and the three Angolan liberation Movements, namely the MPLA, UNITA and FNLA, granting Angola independence from Portugal.

Portugal is known to be the oldest colonial power in modern Europe with journeys to Africa dating back to the 15th century.

Portugal’s colonial presence in Angola has a long history, but views on its position there started changing in the mid-20th century as decolonisation in Africa took its first steps.

However, Portugal was reluctant to let go of its colonies, despite travelling in the wake of other European colonial powers granting independence to theirs. The longstanding ruler of Portugal, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, with its Estado Novo regime, held onto its colonies (which were later renamed “overseas provinces”) in arguing that they literally constituted part of Portugal as a nation.

However, as dissatisfaction grew among the black Angolans toward the colonists, underground groups started forming in the fifties, with the emergence of the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).

In 1961, the Angolan War of Independence broke out against the Portuguese as the two liberation movements, later joined by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), fought for the freedom of Angola from colonial rule.

The war would continue until history was once again written when, in 1974, a military coup overthrew the Estado Novo government in Portugal, subsequently leading to the new government signing the Alvor Agreement and granting independence to Angola as of the 11th of November, 1975.

However, fighting would continue amongst the three liberation movements in what became known as the Angolan Civil War. Here, South Africa and Angola would become embroiled in the Cold War with Cuba, the Soviet Union and the United States stepping into the spotlight.

The civil war only ended in 2002 with the death of UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi.

 

Image courtesy of: www.commsmea.com