ANGOLA: Spotlight

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  • One of Africa’s major oil producers, Angola is nonetheless one of the world’s poorest countries.
  • It is striving to tackle the physical, social and political legacy of a 27-year civil war that ravaged the country after independence.
  • The governing Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the rebel group Unita were bitter rivals even before the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
  • The Soviet Union and Cuba supported the then-Marxist MPLA, while the US and white-ruled South Africa backed Unita as a bulwark against Soviet influence in Africa.
  • Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975
  • After 16 years of fighting that killed up to 300,000 people, a peace deal led to elections. But Unita rejected the outcome and resumed the war, in which hundreds of thousands more were killed. Another peace accord was signed in 1994 and the UN sent in peacekeepers.
  • Fighting steadily worsened again and in 1999 the peacekeepers withdrew, leaving behind a country rich in natural resources but littered with landmines and the ruins of war.
  • The connection between the civil war and the unregulated diamond trade – or “blood diamonds” – was a source of international concern. The UN froze bank accounts used in the gem trade.

QUICK FACTS

  • Politics: President has been in power for 30 years
  • Economy: One of Africa’s leading oil producers, but most people still live on less than US $1 a day.
  • International: China has promised substantial assistance to Angola, one of its main oil suppliers
  • Angola is gradually rebuilding its infrastructure, retrieving weapons from its heavily-armed civilian population and resettling tens of thousands of refugees who fled the fighting. Landmines and impassable roads have cut off large parts of the country.
  • Many Angolans rely on food aid
  • Oil exports and foreign loans have spurred economic growth and have fuelled a reconstruction boom.
  • There have been allegations that oil revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement by the government                                                                                                                                                    (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13036732)
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