Coalition, the Transitional Government, and Civil War

Coalition, the Transitional Government, and Civil War

In the wake of the coup in Portugal, there remained a wide split in the Angolan nationalist movement. Lisbon was anxious to relinquish power to a unified government and took an active role in bringing about a reconciliation of the three liberation movements. In addition, at the urgings of the OAU, Neto, Roberto, and Savimbi made several attempts to form a common front. At a meeting in Kenya in early January 1975, they recognized their parties as independent entities with equal rights and responsibilities, agreed that a period of transition was necessary before independence could be achieved (during which they would work with the Portuguese to lay the foundation for an independent Angola), and pledged to maintain Angolan territorial integrity. They also agreed that only their three organizations would be included in a unity government. FLEC, with its goal of a Cabindan secession, did not support territorial integrity and was excluded. In addition, an MPLA splinter group led by Daniel Chipenda was not considered a legitimate nationalist movement, and it too was excluded.

Meeting in Alvor, Portugal, on January 10, the Lisbon government and the nationalist movements produced an agreement setting independence for November 11, 1975. Under the Alvor Agreement, a transitional government headed by a Portuguese high commissioner was formed; it included the MPLA, UNITA, and the FNLA.

One factor that influenced these agreements was the role of Admiral Coutinho. His pro-MPLA proclivities threatened the delicate balance that the liberation movements had achieved. Angered by his activities, Spínola removed him at the end of January 1975.

On January 31, 1975, the transitional government was sworn in, but the coalition, based on a fragile truce, had serious difficulties, as the leaders of its three member organizations bickered over a number of issues, including personal power. Within days, localized conflicts between MPLA and FNLA forces were renewed. Moreover, on February 13 the MPLA attacked the Luanda office of Chipenda's faction, after which Chipenda joined the FNLA and became its assistant secretary general.

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