Here are key dates in Angola’s post-independence history ahead of elections on August 24.

President Joao Lourenco, whose party has led the country since independence, is seeking a second term.

– Civil war –

On November 11, 1975, Angola becomes independent after a liberation war against Portugal which started in 1961. Agostinho Neto is the first post-independence leader.

But a bloody civil war erupts between guerrilla groups which had taken part in the anti-colonial campaign.

The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), a pro-Soviet group backed by Cuban forces, is pitched against the pro-western National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), supported by apartheid-era South Africa.

– Dos Santos in power –

On September 20, 1979, Jose Eduardo dos Santos of the MPLA takes office as president after Neto dies.

South African forces withdraw in 1988, while the last Cuban soldiers leave in 1991.

– Peace deal, vote, war –

In 1991, dos Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi reach a peace agreement which includes elections.

In 1992, the MPLA wins Angola’s first democratic elections.

But UNITA rejects the results and the second round of voting is cancelled as heavy fighting resumes.

From January to March 1993, UNITA’s fight for the city of Huambo leaves an estimated 12,000 people dead. The UN says 25,000 people are also killed throughout the year in Kuito.

On November 20, 1994, new peace accords are signed in Zambia.

In 1997, UNITA deputies take up their seats and a unity government is formed. But civil war resumes the following year.

– First peace-time elections –

On February 22, 2002, UNITA leader Savimbi is killed by the army in western Angola.

On April 4, the army and UNITA sign a ceasefire agreement to end the civil war. The conflict has left at least 500,000 dead over 27 years.

On September 5, 2008, the MPLA wins an overwhelming victory in the first peace-time elections.

Four years later, the party scores another resounding win.

On September 26, 2012, dos Santos is sworn in after being formally elected for the first time.

– Family appointments –

In 2011, people demonstrate to call for greater freedom of expression, democracy and better living conditions. But the protests are banned and put down by the police, often violently.

In 2013, dos Santos names his son Jose Filomeno as head of a sovereign wealth fund, sparking accusations of nepotism and fears of corruption.

In 2016, Isabel dos Santos, the president’s eldest daughter and Africa’s richest woman, according to Forbes, is appointed head of the national oil firm Sonangol.

– End of dos Santos era –

On February 3, 2017, dos Santos confirms he will not run in elections planned for August, naming his loyal Defence Minister Joao Lourenco as the candidate to succeed him.

On September 26, 2017, Lourenco is sworn in.

Lourenco then unleashes an anti-corruption drive that targets dos Santos’ family.

He fires Isabel, who faces a slew of investigations into her multinational business dealings, while Jose Filomeno in 2020 is sentenced to five years in prison for corruption.

– Dos Santos dies –

Dos Santos dies in Barcelona on July 8, 2022 aged 79 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The question of when and where he will be buried pits the Angolan government and his widow against some of his children. More tests are ordered on his body after one daughter calls foul play.

In its ruling on August 17, the Barcelona court says its decision is based on the definitive autopsy results and the analyses carried are “conclusive” and show he died “a death from natural causes”.


© Agence France-Presse