Angola: Resumption of the civil war

Extracted from: "Angola" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 21-22.

Three days after the voting, while the counting was in progress, Jonas Savimbi had realized that UNITA had lost the elections. He rather disingenuously demanded an investigation into the conduct of the elections, citing several instances of irregularities, and stated that neither he nor his party would ever accept defeat. His request was nevertheless acceded to and the subsequent inquiry delayed the announcement of the election results until 17 October 1992. Conducted by the NEC and monitored by UNAVEM's election experts, the inquiry did not find errors or irregularities that would have made a significant difference to the election results. Hence the elections were declared free and fair. This was not accepted by Savimbi and UNITA. Henceforth UNITA would continue to refer to the elections as having been massively rigged and, therefore, fraudulent.

Even before the findings of the inquiry were made known UNITA withdrew its former soldiers from the unified army (FAA) and clashes began to occur between UNITA's forces and those of the government. Savimbi fled from Luanda, never to return. At the end of October a senior UNITA representative in the CCPM was killed and another one captured. This followed an outbreak of violence in Luanda which turned into a slaughter of UNITA's Ovimbundu supporters. As in 1975, UNITA was driven out of the capital and was soon under siege in Huambo, where it had re-established its headquarters. As a result, the elected UNITA representatives did not take up their seats in the new National Assembly and the second round of the presidential election was postponed indefinitely.

The impact of the renewed war on the country and the peace process was a cruel anticlimax to the optimism arising from the successful elections. In the following couple of years at least as many Angolans would be killed, wounded and be dislocated than was the case in the period 1975-1991. Having found itself powerless to persuade Savimbi to resume the peace process through meaningful negotiations in the first part of 1993, UNITA's principal diplomatic backer, the United States, turned its back on its protegé by extending diplomatic recognition to the elected government of Angola in May 1993. Later that year the UN Security Council imposed an arms and fuel embargo on UNITA. In June, Alioune Blondin Beye, a Malian diplomat, had succeeded Margaret Anstee as the most senior UN representative in Angola.