National Union for the Total Independence of Angola

Published 18th July, 2012

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola or UNITA was founded in March 1966 by a breakaway faction of the FNLA led by Jonas Savimbi. Based in the Ovimbundu and Chokwe tribal areas of central and southern Angola, the party had Maoist ideological roots but moved away from these as it came into increasing conflict with the MPLA. Today the party describes itself as right-wing and believes in African Nationalism and populism.

In January 1975 UNITA joined with the FNLA and the MPLA to form a coalition government immediately after independence. The coalition was short-lived and UNITA and the FNLA established a Democratic Republic in opposition to the MPLA’s People’s Republic of Angola.

After many years of civil war, in 1991 the parties came together once more in the Bicesse Accords which aimed to create a multi-party democracy. A year later in the 1992 elections Savimbi came second to the MPLA candidate José Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA came second to the MPLA in the National Assembly, taking just 70 of the 220 seats. They were quick to cry foul and soon after the fighting started once more.

In 1999 the Angolan armed forces made an all-out effort to destroy UNITA and quickly destroyed their conventional forces. Savimbi and his men decided to fight a guerrilla war. This continued until Savimbi and a number of his key commanders were killed in February 2002. Soon after UNITA signed a ceasefire agreement with the government and embarked on a demobilization and disarmament programme. In August 2002 UNITA became a political party and in 2003 Isaías Samakuva was elected the new leader.

In 2008 the party contested the general election and won 16 of the 220 seats in the National Assembly, taking 10.39% of the vote.

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