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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: September 2012

4 - Angola and Rwanda: The Perils of Political Liberalization


No peacebuilding operations have failed more miserably than the missions in Angola and Rwanda: Both countries slipped back into violence before peacebuilders could accomplish their tasks. The war in Angola continued for several years at varying degrees of intensity, while Rwanda experienced not only resurgent war but genocide. The question under consideration, however, is not how these missions turned out in general but, rather, how effective the peacebuilders' liberalization efforts were as a remedy for civil violence. Let us examine each of the cases in turn.


Angola, located on the southwestern coast of Africa, was ruled by Portugal until 1975. As many as eleven national liberation movements sprang up during the 1960s to fight against the colonial government. By the early 1970s, three of these organizations had emerged as the strongest indigenous groups: the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), the Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA), and the União Nacional para a Indepêndencia Total de Angola (UNITA). These organizations not only waged a guerrilla war against the Portuguese colonial authorities but also battled among themselves for predominance.After the departure of the Portuguese, the MPLA gained control of the Angolan capital, Luanda, and decisively defeated the FNLA in 1976, leaving UNITA as its only major rival. Fighting in Angola between UNITA and the MPLA continued for more than fifteen years, sustained in part by foreign military aid for both sides.

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At War's End
  • Online ISBN: 9780511790836
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