Africa Notes: Angola: The Road to Peace - June 1991
June 6, 1991
On May 31, 1991, more than three decades of anticolonial and civil war in Angola came to an end ("Some Key Dates in the History of Angola," pages 6-7). On that date, the leaders of the governing MPLA (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola) and UNIT A (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola) met in Lisbon to sign an agreement formally mandating a cease-fire, integration of the country's two armies, and late 1992 multiparty elections.
This historic event culminated six rounds of peace talks beginning in April 1990 brokered by Portugal's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Durao Barroso, with the supportive participation of the United States and the Soviet Union.
The December 1988 New York accords that ended the direct involvement of Cuba and South Africa in the Angolan war and launched the process leading to Namibia's independence raised expectations that a settlement of Angola's debilitating civil war could be achieved quickly. The complex interplay of superpower hesitancy, MPl.A-UNITA interests, and clashing egos led to a series of dead ends before these hopes were realized. This issue of CSIS Africa Notes is devoted to an analysis of the mix of forward and backward steps that seem to have brought this resource-rich country of southern Africa to the threshold of peace for the first time since the early 1960s.