Luanda between wars


In 1992 the Swedish Social Democratic party was asked to hold, election workshops in Luanda the Angola capital.

After pressure from the international community it was finally established that multi- party and presidential elections would be held to put an end to a war that was just dragging on since independence from Portugal in 1975.

I was assigned to be part of a delegation that also included Julio Flores, the party treasurer Inger Mähler and elections expert Hans-Erik Holmqvist. My knowledge of the Portuguese language was useful, once again, when our party the Swedish Social democrats were asked to assist another member of the Socialist International family.

Our previous work in South Africa with The ANC had echoed in southern Africa and the MPLA were eager to learn what we could share as important issues in order to run a successful campaign. After all we had a long experience of running elections.

Our stay was very short. We arrived on 5th July and left on the 10th. During this time we managed to meet election general Daniel Chipenda at MPLA headquarters, we paid a visit to the Swedish embassy and held workshops on some basic principles of multi-party elections. Throughout the visit we were taken care of, by MPLA historic leader Mr. Lopo do Nascimento.

We stayed at the hotel Trópico in Luanda and it was easy to feel the tension in the city in a period where the war had just taken a break and hopes were high among the population to get a peaceful solution and an end to the conflict.

Election were held in September with a turnout of 92 %. Angolans had voted and they gave the MPLA 54% of the vote for the national assembly while UNITA got 34%. We were to learn that election results were not accepted and that war broke out again as a second civil war lasting until 2002 just after Unita leader Jonas Savimbi’s death.

This long conflict cost the country much suffering as it forced millions to a life as refugees, escaping the countryside and looking for shelter in the cities.