Alvor, Agreement of

   The ill-fated Alvor Agreement was signed in Alvor, Algarve province, in January 1975. The purpose of the agreement was to facilitate the peaceful, lawful decolonization of Portugal's former colony of Angola. The conference that worked out and signed this instrument was hosted by Portugal's provisional government, and backed by the Armed Forces Movement, which had overthrown the dictatorship on 25 April 1974, and which had called for rapid decolonization of Portugal's African colonies after a truce in the colonial war. Decolonization negotiations proceeded fairly smoothly in the other African territories, but in Angola, rather than one African nationalist movement or party, three were struggling for power. They were the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), led by Holden Roberto; the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), led by Agostinho Neto, who had trained as a physician in Portugal; and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Savimbi. By the Alvor Agreement, which was signed by four parties — Portugal, FNLA, MPLA, and UNITA—the decolonization process would be realized in several stages, ending in November 1975, following free elections with the three nationalist parties participating, Portugal overseeing the elections, and the new army of Angola comprised of elements of the three African parties' armies, which had fought Portuguese forces off and on since 1961. Portugal's government in Lisbon and its government and forces in Angola attempted, but failed, to put the Alvor Agreement into full effect. A civil war broke out in the spring of 1975 in Angola among the three nationalist forces, eventually with the FNLA and UNITA entering an alliance against the MPLA. No all-Angola army was ever constituted, and a power struggle among the three armed movements ensued. The MPLA won control of the Luanda region. As the Portuguese forces and commissioner withdrew, Portugal did not hand over power to any one group. On 11 November 1975, with the Alvor Agreement a dead letter and no elections having been organized, the MPLA declared the independence of Angola and the civil war continued. Angola's independent beginnings were unique in African history: the colonial power suddenly withdrew without handing over power officially to a nationalist party, but "to the people of Angola," and Angola was born as a free state embroiled in a bloody civil war that lasted until 2002.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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