As of late 1988, Angola was divided into eighteen provinces (províncias) and 161 districts (municípios). Districts were further subdivided into quarters or communes (comunas), villages (povoações), and neighborhoods (bairros). Administration at each level was the responsibility of a commissioner, who was appointed by the president at the provincial, district, and commune levels and elected at the village and neighborhood levels. The eighteen provincial commissioners were ex-officio members of the executive branch of the national government. The supreme organ of state power was the national People's Assembly. Provincial people's assemblies comprised between fifty-five and eighty-five delegates, charged with implementing MPLA-PT directives. People's assemblies were also envisioned, but not yet operational in late 1988, at each subnational level of administration.
In 1983 the president created a system of regional military councils to oversee a range of local concerns with security implications. High-ranking military officers, reporting directly to the president, headed these councils. Their authority superseded that of other provincial administrators and allowed them to impose a state of martial law within areas threatened by insurgency. The boundaries of military regions and the provinces did not coincide exactly. Until 1988 ten regional military councils were in operation. In early 1988, however, the Ministry of Defense, citing this structure as inadequate, announced the formation of four fronts.
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