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According to vestiges found in the regions of the Lundas, Congo and the Namibe desert, the territory was inhabited in the pre-historic period, before it received, in the proto-historic era, more organised people. The first to settle were the khoisan, also known as bushmen or Kamussequeles – great hunters of pygmoid build, light brown in complexion.
In the early VI century a.C., more developed people of black complexion, technologically situated in the Metals Ages timeline, performed one of the major migrations in history. They were the bantu and came down from north, probably from the present day Republic of Cameroon.
In arriving in Angola, these people found the khoisan and other more primitive peoples, on whom they easily imposed their technology in the domains of metallurgy, ceramics and agriculture. The settlement of the bantu went for many centuries, which gave rise to the emergence of various groups who would eventually settle into ethnic groups that prevailed to the present days.
In 1484, the Portuguese landed in Zaire, under command of navigator Diogo Cão. From that landmark, the Portuguese started to conquer not only Angola, but Africa in general. With the installation of the first major political unit of the territory, that would become history as the Congo Kingdom, the Portuguese set up alliances.
The Portuguese colony of Angola was formed in 1565 with the arrival of Paulo Dias de Novais, along with 100 families of settlers and 400 soldiers. Paulo Dias de Novais was the first Portuguese governor to arrive in Angola, which had as his main purposes to explore the natural resources and promote the slave trade (slavery), by forming an extensive market. By 1764, from a slave trade organisation, it gradually evolved into a society concerned about producing what it consumed. In 1850, Luanda already was a large city, full of commercial outlets that, together with Benguela, exported palm and peanut oils, wax, gum copal, timber, ivory, cotton, coffee and cocoa and other products. Corn, tobacco, dry meet and cassava flour started to be produced locally as well. An Angolan burgeoisie was thus starting to emerge.
Meanwhile, in 1836, the slave trade was abolished and in 1844, the ports of Angola opened to foreign vessels. With the Berlin Conference (19th November 1884 to 26th February 1885, that established the sharing of Africa among the colonial powers), Portugal was confronted with having to immediately effect the territorial occupation of its colonies.
The territory of Cabinda, to the north of Zaire river, was then also entrusted to Portugal, under the legitimacy of the Simulambuko Protectorate Treaty, signed between the kings of Portugal and the Princes of Cabinda, in 1885.
Following a long lasting and complicated settlement, the end of the XIX century witnessed the organisation of a colonial administration directly related to the territory and would-be governed people.
In the economy, the colonial strategy focused on agriculture and export of raw materials. Rubber and ivory trade, added to revenues from taxes on the population, earned great incomes for Lisbon.
The end of the monarchy in Portugal, in 1910, added to a favourable conjuncture, led to new reforms in the administrative, agrarian and education domains.
In the economic plan, an intensive diamond exploration ensues. DIAMANG (Angola Diamond Company) was established in 1921, although it was already operational from the Luanda region since 1916. With a view to extending the State to the colony, Angola thus became one more province of Portugal (Overseas Province). The situation prevailing was apparently calm.
In the second quarter of the XX century, this apparent tranquility was put at stake, following the emergence of the first nationalist movements.
The emergence of more explicit political organisations starts as from the 1950’s, which in an organised way, were making their voices heard. They conducted diplomatic campaigns around the world, calling for Independence.
The colonial power would not give in to the proposals put forward by the nationalist forces, which triggered the beginning of the armed liberation struggle by the Angolan nationalists. In this struggle, highlight went to the “Movimento Popular para a Libertação de Angola” (MPLA), founded in 1956, the “Frente Nacional para a Libertação de Angola” (FNLA) that emerged in 1961, and the “União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola” (UNITA) that came about in 1966.
After long years of confrontation, the country eventually won Independence on 11th November 1975. 27 years afterwards and 41 upon the beginning of the liberation struggle, Peace is finally attained on 4th April 2002, following the accords signed in Luena, Moxico. Eighty thousand UNITA soldiers laid down weapons and are integrated into the civil society, in the Angolan Armed Forces and National Police. UNITA is transformed into a political party and thus gains its role in the country’s democratic affairs.
The national reconciliation and the process of development and reconstruction become the main objectives outlined by the President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, following the attainment of a lasting peace in 2002, after years of fighting and negotiations.
Since 1992, when the first general elections were held, the multiparty democracy prevails in Angola. The ruling MPLA party, along with opposition UNITA and other political forces with parliament seat, wisely ran the reconstruction of one of the countries with a promising future in Africa.
Under a vast programming that pushed Angola towards modernity, progress and wealth, new elections were held in 2008 and 2012.
MPLA, which has been governing the country since independence, has managed to preserve the national identity. MPLA has produced two presidents Angola has had until now. The first, the founder of the Angolan Nation, Dr. António Agostinho Neto, and the second and current President of the Republic, Engineer. José Eduardo dos Santos, who became, when he was sworn in, in 1979, the continent’s youngest president.
In the international arena, Angola has been supporting initiatives that promote peace and settlement of regional disputes, by favouring the diplomatic path in the prevention of conflicts and promotion of human rights.
The first multiparty presidential and legislative elections were held from 29th to 30th September 1992 in Angola. The governing “Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola” (MPLA) won 54 percent of the valid votes and – with 129 parliament seats – an overwhelming majority of the 220 seats. The “União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola” (UNITA) got 34 percent and 70 MPs. The “Partido da Renovação Social” (PRS) reached two percent and six MPs. The “Frente Nacional da Libertação de Angola” (FNLA) got two percent of the votes and elected five MPs.
Simultaneously, presidential elections were held, a process that did not go beyond the first round: José Eduardo dos Santos (MPLA) got 49 percent, without the majority that would enable outright victory in the first round. His opponent, Jonas Savimbi (UNITA) managed to get 41 percent of the votes. The run-off would not take place as UNITA rejected the outcome and opted for a new war against the MPLA, in an attempt to seize power by force.
Angola held a new election from 5-6 September 2008, six years after the achievement of peace in the country, in 2002, following the death of Jonas Savimbi. That was the legislative election MPLA won with 82 percent of the votes, obtaining 191 of the National Assembly’s 220 seats. UNITA obtained 10 percent of the votes and 16 MPs. PRS came third with three percent and eight MPs. FNLA got one percent of the votes and three MPs. “Nova Democracia” (ND) coalition elected two MPs.
The Angolan Constitution promulgated in 2010 definitely abolished the presidential elections, which were replaced with general elections, for the election of the President of the Republic, the Vice President and the National Assembly members. The head of the list of the most voted party automatically becomes the President of the Republic. The number two on the list becomes the Vice President.
In the elections of 31st August 2012, the “Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola” (MPLA) won 71,84 percent of the votes (4.135.503), thus getting 175 MPs, simultaneously, José Eduardo dos Santos and Manuel Domingos Vicente became President and Vice President, respectively. The “União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola” (UNITA), with 1.074.565 votes (18,66 percent), elected 32 MPs. The “Convergência Ampla de Salvação de Angola-Coligação Eleitoral” (CASA-CE) totalled 345.589 votes (six percent), getting eight MPs. The “Partido de Renovação Social” (PRS) obtained 98.233 votes, earning 1,70 percent and three MPs. With 1,13 percent of the ballots (65.163) “Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola” (FNLA), got two MPs elected. The remainder parties and coalitions failed to reach 0,50 percent of the votes and were for that reason declared extinct. They are Nova Democracia-União Eleitoral (ND-UE), that got 13.337 votes (0,23 percent); Partido Popular para o Desenvolvimento (PAPOD), with 8.710 votes (0,15 percent); Frente Unida para a Mudança de Angola (FUMA), with 8.260 votes (0,14 percent) and the Conselho Político de Oposição (CPO), with 6.644 votes (0,11 percent).