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People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola
Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola
ChairmanJoão Lourenço
Secretary-GeneralPaulo Pombolo
FounderAgostinho Neto, Viriato da Cruz
Founded10 December 1956; 66 years ago (1956-12-10)
Merger ofPLUA, MINE and PCA
NewspaperJornal de Angola
Youth wingYouth of MPLA
Women's wingOrganization of Angolan Women
Paramilitary wingPeople's Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola (until 1993; integrated into the Angolan Armed Forces)
IdeologySince 1993:
Social democracy[1]
Democratic socialism[2]
Left-wing nationalism
Political positionSince 1993:
Centre-left to left-wing
Left-wing to far-left
International affiliationSocialist International
African affiliationFormer Liberation Movements of Southern Africa
Slogan"Peace, Work and Liberty"
National Assembly
124 / 220
0 / 5
Pan-African Parliament
0 / 5
Election symbol
Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (logo).png
Party flag
Flag of MPLA.svg
Website Edit this at Wikidata

The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Portuguese: Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, abbr. MPLA), for some years[when?] 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 left-wing, 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.


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 (PLUA) to form the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, with Viriato da Cruz, the president of the PCA, as secretary general.[3][4] Other groups later merged into MPLA, such as Movement for the National Independence of Angola (MINA) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Angola (FDLA).[5]

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 currently 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 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 scarred the party.[6]

Independence and civil war[edit]

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 11 November 1975 in accordance with the Alvor Accords.[7] 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, and he was succeeded after his death by José Eduardo dos Santos in 1979.

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

In 1974–1976, South Africa and Zaire intervened militarily in favor of FNLA and UNITA, and the United States heavily aided the two groups. Cuba in turn intervened 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 against the wishes of President Ronald Reagan, fearing situation similar to the Vietnam War. In 1976 the FNLA withdrew its troops to their bases in Zaire, while 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 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. During the coup, Cuban forces stationed in Angola sided with the MPLA leadership against the coup organizers.[8] 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.[9][10][11] 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[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, the MPLA abandoned its Marxist–Leninist ideology and declared social democracy to be its official ideology on its third congress in December 1991.[1]

The MPLA emerged 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.[12][13][14][15] 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.[16] Human rights observers have accused the MPLA of "genocidal atrocities," "systematic extermination," "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity during the civil war."[17] Political scientist Rudolph Rummel estimated that the MPLA were responsible for between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in democide from 1975 to 1987.[18]

Human rights record[edit]

The MPLA government of Angola has been accused of human rights violations such as arbitrary arrest and detention and torture[19] by international organisations, including Amnesty International[20] and Human Rights Watch.[21] In response, the MPLA government hired Samuels International Associates Inc in 2008 to help improve Angola's global image.[22]

Party organizations[edit]

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[edit]

During both the Portuguese Colonial War and the Angolan Civil War, the MPLA received military and humanitarian support primarily from the governments of Algeria, the Bulgarian People's Republic, East Germany,[23] Cape Verde Islands, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic,[24] the Congo, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, the Mozambican People's Republic, Nigeria, North Korea, the Polish People's Republic, China, the Romanian Socialist Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia,[25] the Soviet Union, Sudan,[24] Tanzania,[26] Libya[27] and SFR Yugoslavia. While China did briefly support the MPLA,[28] 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.[29][30]

Electoral history[edit]

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.[31] 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.[32] In the 2012 legislative election, the party won 71.84% of the vote and 175 of 220 parliamentary seats.[33]

Presidential elections[edit]

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

National Assembly elections[edit]

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

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Santos, Hélia (2008), "MPLA (Angola)", A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures – Continental Europe and its Empires, Edinburgh University Press, p. 480, ISBN 9780748623945
  2. ^ "Estatuto do MPLA". MPLA. Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  3. ^ Africa Year Book and Who's who. 1977. p. 238.
  4. ^ Tvedten, Inge (1997). Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction. pp. 29.
  5. ^ John Marcum, The Angolan Revolution, vol. I, The Anatomy of an Explosion (1950–1962), Cambridge/Mass. & London, MIT Press, 1969.
  6. ^ Benjamin Almeida (2011). Angola: O Conflito na Frente Leste. Lisbon: Âncora. ISBN 978 972 780 3156.
  7. ^ Rothchild, Donald S. (1997). Managing Ethnic Conflict in Africa: Pressures and Incentives for Cooperation. Brookings Institution Press. pp. 115–116. ISBN 0-8157-7593-8.
  8. ^ Georges A. Fauriol and Eva Loser. Cuba: The International Dimension, 1990, p. 164.
  9. ^ Sulc, Lawrence. "Communists coming clean about their past atrocities", Human Events (13 October 1990): 12.
  10. ^ Ramaer, J. C. Soviet Communism: The Essentials. Second Edition. Translated by G. E. Luton. Stichting Vrijheid, Vrede, Verdediging (Belgium), 1986.
  11. ^ Pawson, Lara (30 April 2014). In the Name of the People: Angola's Forgotten Massacre. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9781780769059.
  12. ^ Historical Dictionary of Angola by W. Martin James, Susan Herlin Broadhead on Google Books
  13. ^ National Society for Human Rights, Ending the Angolan Conflict, Windhoek, Namibia, 3 July 2000.
  14. ^ John Matthew, Letters, The Times, UK, 6 November 1992 (election observer).
  15. ^ Angola: Resumption of the civil war Archived 2 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine EISA
  16. ^ Madsen, Wayne (17 May 2002). "Report Alleges US Role in Angola Arms-for-Oil Scandal". CorpWatch. Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
  17. ^ National Society for Human Rights, Press Releases, 12 September 2000, 16 May 2001.
  18. ^ Power Kills
  19. ^ "UN reports Angola 'torture' abuse". BBC News. 28 September 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2007.
  20. ^ Angola. Amnesty USA.
  21. ^ Angola. Human Rights Watch.
  22. ^ "How a U.S. agency cleaned up Rwanda's genocide-stained image", The Globe and Mail.
  23. ^ Howe, Herbert M (2004). Ambiguous Order: Military Forces In African States. p. 81.
  24. ^ a b Wright, George (1997). The Destruction of a Nation: United States Policy Towards Angola Since 1945. pp. 9–10.
  25. ^ Nzongola-Ntalaja, Georges; Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein (1986). The Crisis in Zaire. pp. 193–194.
  26. ^ "Angola-Ascendancy of the MPLA". Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  27. ^ Gebril, Mahmoud (1988), Imagery and Ideology in U.S. Policy Toward Libya 1969–1982, p. 70
  28. ^ China Study Centre (India) (1964). China Report. p. 25.
  29. ^ Walker, John Frederick (2004). A Certain Curve of Horn: The Hundred-Year Quest for the Giant Sable Antelope of Angola. p. 146.
  30. ^ Nzongola-Ntalaja, Georges; Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein (1986). The Crisis in Zaire. p. 194.
  31. ^ National Society for Human Rights, Ending the Angolan Conflict, Windhoek, Namibia, 3 July 2000
  32. ^ "Angolan ruling party gains about 82% of votes in legislative race". Xinhua. 17 September 2008.
  33. ^ "Eleicoes Gerais 2012: Resultados". Comissao Nacional Eleitoral Angola. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  34. ^ "Man Ah Warrior: The Tappa Zukie Story". 4 May 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  35. ^ "Pablo Moses – Revolutionary Dream". Discogs. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  36. ^ "Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK lyrics". Genius. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  37. ^ "Revolutionaries – Revolutionary Sounds". Discogs. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  38. ^ Stuart, Keith (14 January 2016). "Call of Duty publisher sued by family of Angolan rebel". The Guardian – via
  39. ^ "Mission 13 Pitch Dark". Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Wiki Guide. IGN. Retrieved 30 January 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]