Reflections on Angola’s 1992 Election: A Photo Essay

  • Claudia Gastrow University of Johannesburg


In October 1992, Angola experienced its first democratic election. Although independence
had been achieved in 1975, the rivalries between independence movements
and the geo-political interests of the Cold War, led to an immediate plunge
into civil war between the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola),
the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola) and UNITA (National Union
for the Total Independence of Angola). By the end of the 1970s, the FNLA, originally
backed by Mobutu’s Zaire and the USA, had become a spent force. However,
the MPLA and UNITA continued to wage war, the former backed by international
socialist forces and the latter by South Africa and covertly the United States. Angola’s
war thus became a microcosm, not only of the domestic tensions wrought by centuries
of Portuguese colonial actions, but of the developing Cold War and the regional
effects of apartheid militarism across southern Africa. With the gradual decline of the
Soviet Union, the faltering of apartheid in South Africa as talks began with the ANC,
and an acknowledged military stalemate reached with the defeat of South African
troops at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, negotiations ensued for the mutual withdrawal
of Cuban and South African troops from the country. These were followed by
the Bicesse Peace Accords signed by UNITA and the MPLA in which, among other
things, the two factions agreed to end hostilities and hold elections.

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