The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Portuguese: Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, abbr. MPLA), from 1977–1990 called the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party (Portuguese: Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola – Partido do Trabalho), is an Angolan social democratic political party. The MPLA fought against the Portuguese Army in the Angolan War of Independence from 1961 to 1974, and defeated the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) in the Angolan Civil War. The party has ruled Angola since the country's independence from Portugal in 1975, being the de facto government throughout the civil war and continuing to rule afterwards.

People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola
Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola
ChairmanJoão Lourenço
Secretary-GeneralPaulo Pombolo
FoundersAgostinho Neto
Viriato da Cruz
Founded10 December 1956; 67 years ago (1956-12-10)
Merger of
HeadquartersLuanda, Luanda Province
NewspaperJornal de Angola
Youth wingYouth of MPLA
Women's wingOrganization of Angolan Women
Paramilitary wingPeople's Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola (1956–1993)
Membership (2022)3,000,000[1]
Political position
International affiliationSocialist International (since 2006)[19]
African affiliation
Colours  Red
  •  • "Peace, Work and Liberty"
  •  • "MPLA e os Novos Desafios"[20]
National Assembly
124 / 220
0 / 5
Pan-African Parliament
0 / 5
Election symbol
Party flag
Party flag
Website Edit this at Wikidata



On 10 December 1956, in Estado Novo-ruled Portuguese Angola, the underground Angolan Communist Party (PCA) merged with the Party of the United Struggle for Africans in Angola (PLUAA) to form the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, with Viriato da Cruz, the president of the PCA, as secretary general.[21][22] Other groups later merged into MPLA, such as the Movement for the National Independence of Angola (MINA) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Angola (FDLA).[23]

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 today is a full-member of the Socialist International grouping of social democratic parties. The armed wing of MPLA was the People's 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 African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (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 Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP) replaced FRAIN, adding FRELIMO of Mozambique and the CLSTP, forerunner of the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP).

In the early 1970s, the MPLA's guerrilla activities were reduced, due to the fierce counter-insurgency campaigns of the Portuguese military. At the same time, internal conflicts caused the movement to temporarily split into three factions (Ala Presidencialista or Presidentialist Wing, Revolta Activa or Active Revolt, and Revolta do Leste or Eastern Revolt). By 1974/75, this situation had been overcome with renewed cooperation, but it scarred the party.[24]

Independence and civil war


The Carnation Revolution in Lisbon, Portugal in 1974 established a military government. It promptly ceased anti-independence fighting in Angola and agreed to transfer 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 11 November 1975, in accordance with the Alvor Accords.[25]

UNITA and FNLA together declared Angolan independence in Huambo. These differences reignited civil war between UNITA & FNLA and the MPLA, with the latter winning the upper hand. Agostinho Neto became the first president upon independence. He was succeeded after his death in 1979 by José Eduardo dos Santos.

MPLA poster. The slogan translates as "Victory is certain".

In 1974–1976, South Africa and Zaire intervened militarily in favor of FNLA and UNITA. The United States strongly aided the two groups. Cuba in turn intervened in 1975 to aid the MPLA against South African intervention, and the Soviet Union aided 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. [citation needed] The United States Congress barred further U.S. military involvement in the country, against the wishes of President Ronald Reagan, as the representatives feared getting into a situation similar to the Vietnam War. In 1976 the FNLA withdrew its troops to their bases in Zaire. Part of them joined the 32 Battalion, formed by South Africa in order to receive anti-MPLA Angolans.

At its first congress in 1977, the MPLA adopted Marxism–Leninism as the party ideology. It added Partido do Trabalho (Labour Party) to its name.[6]

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. During the coup, Cuban forces stationed in Angola sided with the MPLA leadership against the coup organizers.[26] Estimates for the number of Alves' followers killed by Cuban and MPLA troops in the aftermath range from 2,000 — 70,000 dead, with some placing the death toll at 18,000.[27][28][29]

After the violent internal conflict called Fractionism, the MPLA declared that it would follow the socialist, not the communist, model. But it did maintain close ties with the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc, establishing socialist economic policies and a one-party state[citation needed]. Several thousand Cuban troops remained in the country to combat UNITA fighters and bolster the regime's security.

When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union fell, the MPLA abandoned its Marxist–Leninist ideology. On its third congress in December 1990, it declared social democracy to be its official ideology.[6]

The MPLA emerged victorious in Angola's 1992 general election, but eight opposition parties rejected the election as rigged. UNITA sent negotiators to 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. The civil war resumed.[30][31][32][33]

The war continued until 2002, when UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed. The two parties agreed to a ceasefire, and a plan was laid out for UNITA to demobilize and become a political party. More than 500,000 civilians were killed during the civil war.[34] Human rights observers have accused the MPLA of "genocidal atrocities," "systematic extermination," "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity during the civil war."[35] Political scientist Rudolph Rummel estimated that the MPLA were responsible for between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in democide from 1975 to 1987.[36]

Human rights record


The MPLA government of Angola has been accused of human rights violations such as arbitrary arrest and detention and torture[37] by international organisations, including Amnesty International[38] and Human Rights Watch.[39] The MPLA government hired Samuels International Associates Inc in 2008 to help improve Angola's global image and "'facilitate' its meetings with senior U.S. officials".[40]

Party organizations


At present, major mass organizations of the MPLA-PT include the Angolan Women's Organization (Organização da Mulher Angolana), National Union of Angolan Workers (União Nacional dos Trabalhadores Angolanos), Agostinho Neto Pioneer Organization (Organização de Pioneiros de Agostinho Neto), and the Youth of MPLA (Juventude do 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, Brazil,[41] the Bulgarian People's Republic, East Germany,[42] Cape Verde, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic,[43] the Congo, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Mexico, Morocco, the Mozambican People's Republic, Nigeria, North Korea, the Polish People's Republic, China, the Romanian Socialist Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia,[44] the Soviet Union, Sudan,[43] Tanzania,[45] Libya[46] and SFR Yugoslavia. While China did briefly support the MPLA,[47] 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.[48][49]

Electoral history


In the 1992 election, 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.[50] 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.[51] In the 2012 legislative election, the party won 71.84% of the vote and 175 of 220 parliamentary seats.[52]

Presidential elections

Election Party candidate Votes % Result
1992 José Eduardo dos Santos 1,953,335 49.57% Won  Y
2012 4,135,503 71.85% Won  Y
2017 João Lourenço 4,907,057 61.08% Won  Y
2022 3,209,429 51.17% Won  Y

National Assembly elections

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Result
1980 José Eduardo dos Santos Indirect election
229 / 229
New   1st Sole legal party
1986 Indirect election
173 / 290
  56   1st Sole legal party
1992 2,124,126 53.74%
129 / 220
  44   1st Majority government
2008 5,266,216 81.64%
191 / 220
  62   1st Supermajority government
2012 4,135,503 71.85%
175 / 220
  16   1st Supermajority government
2017 João Lourenço 4,907,057 61.08%
150 / 220
  25   1st Supermajority government
2022 3,209,429 51.17%
124 / 220
  26   1st Majority government

See also



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  2. ^ a b Andresen Guimarães, Fernando (2001). The Origins of the Angolan Civil War: Foreign Intervention and Domestic Political Conflict, 1961–76. Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1007/978-0-230-59826-3 (inactive 17 March 2024).{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of March 2024 (link)
  3. ^ Péclard, Didier (31 August 2021). "Nationalism, Liberation, and Decolonization in Angola". Oxford Academic – African History. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.013.640. ISBN 978-0-19-027773-4.
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  5. ^ a b C. Docherty, James; Lamb, Peter (2006). Historical Dictionary of Socialism. Scarecrow Press. p. 276.
  6. ^ a b c d Poddar, Prem; S. Patke, Rajeev; Jensen, Lars, eds. (2008). A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures – Continental Europe and its Empires. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 480–481.
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  10. ^ a b Szajkowski, Bogdan, ed. (1981). Marxist Governments: A World Survey. Macmillan Publishers. pp. 72–76. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-04329-3. ISBN 978-1-349-04331-6.
  11. ^ a b Hodges, Tony (2001). Angola: From Afro-Stalinism to Petro-Diamond Capitalism. Indiana University Press.
  12. ^ Ball, Jeremy (20 November 2017). "The History of Angola". Oxford Academic – African History. Oxford University Press: 20. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.013.180. ISBN 978-0-19-027773-4. The MPLA adopted Marxism in 1976, which strengthened its ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union.
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  15. ^ Drew, Allison, ed. (1 May 2013). "16". The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism. Oxford Academic. pp. 285–302. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199602056.013.003.
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  17. ^ Vanaik, Achin (13 December 2021). "Humanitarian Intervention Is a Cloak for Military Aggression". Jacobin. Archived from the original on 1 July 2022.
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  19. ^ Lamb, Peter; Docherty, James C. (2006). Historical Dictionary of Socialism (Second ed.). The Scarecrow Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-8108-5560-1. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  20. ^ "Comité central do MPLA alargado para 497 membros" [MPLA central committee enlarged to 497 members]. Jornal de Angola (in Portuguese). 15 June 2019. Archived from the original on 16 June 2019. O conclave, o primeiro convocado pelo presidente do partido e chefe de Estado, João Lourenço, decorreu sob o lema "MPLA e os Novos Desafios" [The conclave, the first called by the party's president and head of state, João Lourenço, took place under the slogan "MPLA and the New Challenges".]
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  22. ^ Tvedten, Inge (1997). Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction. pp. 29.
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Further reading

  • David Birmingham, A Short History of Modern Angola, Hurst 2015.
  • 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
  • Lúcio Lara, Um amplo movimento: Itinerário do MPLA através de documentos e anotações, vol. I, Até Fevereiro de 1961, 2ª ed., Luanda: Lúcio & Ruth Lara, 1998, vol. II, 1961–1962, Luanda: Lúcio Lara, 2006, vol. III, 1963–1964, Luanda: Lúcio Lara, 2008