Collapse of the Transitional Government

Angola Table of Contents

Inevitably, the delicate coalition came apart as the leaders of the three movements failed to resolve fundamental policy disagreements or control their competition for personal power. Although the OAU brought Neto, Roberto, and Savimbi together in June 1975 for negotiations that produced a draft constitution, heavy fighting broke out in early July and spread swiftly throughout the country. Within a week, the MPLA had forced the FNLA out of Luanda, while the FNLA had eliminated all remaining MPLA presence in the northern towns of Uíge and Zaire provinces. UNITA formally declared war on the MPLA on August 1, 1975. A year earlier, the MPLA had created its military wing, the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (Forças Armadas Populares de Libertação de Angola -- FAPLA), which became the core of the postindependence army. The FNLA and UNITA, recognizing that their separate military forces were not strong enough to fight the MPLA, formed an alliance and withdrew their ministers from the provisional government in Luanda, heralding full-scale civil war. The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), meanwhile, initiated a covert program to have American and European mercenaries fight with the FNLA.

On August 14, 1975, the transitional government collapsed. Portugal ordered the dissolution of the coalition government and announced the assumption of all executive powers by the acting Portuguese high commissioner in Angola. In reality, MPLA officials filled those ministries abandoned by the FNLA and UNITA, thereby allowing the MPLA to extend its political control throughout the Luanda government.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress