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Tensions ran high over results of August general elections.Constitutional Court endorsed victory of ruling party in August elections. After ruling party People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) of incumbent President Lourenço late Aug won 51% of vote in general election, main opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) 1 Sept filed legal complaint against results to Constitutional Court, citing large differences between official vote count and party’s parallel tally. Constitutional Court 5 Sept rejected request.Opposition supporters took to streets despite violence and arrests. Meanwhile, human rights organisation Friends of Angola around 2 Sept said it had received “vast” number of reports of unlawful detention of opposition supporters since elections. Suspected MPLA supporters 2 Sept attacked UNITA local headquarters near Benguela city, injuring ten and torching several vehicles. Security forces 15 Sept patrolled streets in major cities, including capital Luanda, for Lourenco’s inauguration. Thousands of anti-govt protesters 24 Sept attended demonstrations in Luanda, alleging electoral fraud and calling for release of political prisoners. Opposition leader Adalberto Costa Júnior same day promised “year of protests”.
Security forces’ deadly crackdown on protesters caused outrage. In joint statement, NGO Amnesty International and Angolan rights group OMUNGA 2 Feb confirmed security forces had killed at least ten people during heavy crackdown on protesters in Cafunfo mining town, Luanda Norte province, since 30 Jan, said unconfirmed reports revealed high number of activists still unaccounted for, and called for prompt investigation; meanwhile, opposition parties UNITA and CASA-CE joined calls for investigation into killings. Police chief Paulo de Almeida late Jan-early Feb said security forces 30 Jan foiled armed attack on Cafunfo police station by secessionist group Lunda Tchokwe Protectorate Movement (LTPM), leaving six dead and 20 injured; LTMP president, José Mateus Zecamutchima, however maintained police went on “shooting spree” against unarmed protesters 30 Jan, leaving at least 25 dead and many missing. Authorities 9 Feb detained Zecamutchima on charges of rebellion; his lawyers 26 Feb raised concern about absence of due process
Police violently repressed anti-govt demonstration. Following calls by main opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), thousands of youths 11 Nov took to streets in capital Luanda for second time in less than three weeks to protest against rampant poverty and govt corruption, and to call for new date for local elections delayed by COVID-19 pandemic; security forces used teargas and live bullets to disperse crowd, reportedly killing one protester and injuring several others. NGO Human Rights Watch next day deplored “heavy-handed policing and violent repression of peaceful protests”, urged govt to investigate abuses. President Lourenço 26 Nov held talks in Luanda with 17 youth organisations, including UNITA’s youth wing, to appease tensions.
Security forces violently suppressed protests. Around 2,000 people 24 Oct demonstrated in capital Luanda against worsening living conditions and Sept decision to postpone municipal elections amid COVID-19 pandemic, following call by coalition of civil society organisations Angolan Revolutionary Movement (MRA) endorsed by opposition party UNITA; police clashed with protesters, reportedly killing one, injuring over 50 and detaining over 100. In following days, demonstrations erupted in several areas in solidarity with detained protesters; in Huambo city (south of Luanda), police 28 Oct cracked down on protesters, severely injuring nine. UNITA same day decried “terrorism by national police”, while MRA said 387 participants in 24 Oct protest were still missing.
Following court decision in Dec to freeze bank accounts of Isobel dos Santos, daughter of former President dos Santos, and her husband over significant state losses, newspapers 19 Jan published investigation into leaked documents which detailed her alleged corruption and misappropriation of funds. Chief prosecutor 20 Jan indicted her for embezzlement and money laundering. She denied wrongdoing.
Authorities forcibly broke up separatist demonstration. Security forces 10 Dec violently dispersed peaceful pro-independence march in Cabinda exclave in west; police arrested dozens including president and sec gen of Cabinda Independence Movement (MIC), which seeks independence for exclave. In protest, armed separatist movement Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) mid-Dec called for large-scale demonstrations. Supreme Court 9 Dec opened trial of former President dos Santos’s son Jose Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, charged with embezzling $500mn from Angola’s sovereign wealth fund. Court 23 Dec froze bank accounts and holdings of Isobel Dos Santos, daughter of former President dos Santos, and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo over state losses of more than a billion dollars.
Supreme Court 15 Aug handed fourteen-year prison sentence to former transport minister Augusto da Silva Tomas for corruption. Govt 21 Aug hosted, and jointly mediated with DR Congo, talks between Rwandan President Kagame and Ugandan President Museveni in capital Luanda following months of Rwanda-Uganda tensions; two leaders same day agreed to de-escalate tensions and re-open common border.
Armed Forces of Cabinda (FAC), armed wing of movement for secession of Cabinda exclave Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), 4 July claimed to have killed nine soldiers 1-2 July in exclave’s northern Massabi region, one FAC combatant killed. Following Feb arrest of supporters of smaller secessionist organisation Cabinda Independence Movement (MIC), police 4 July released ten detained activists.
Armed separatist movement Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) early May said Angolan soldiers had deployed several times in western DR Congo late April claiming to be looking for FLEC militants; FLEC denied presence of any of its militants in Congo.
Court 24 April ordered release of 40 supporters of Cabinda Independence Movement (MIC), which seeks independence for Cabinda exclave in west, arrested in Feb; eleven supporters remained detained.
Following Feb arrest of supporters of Cabinda Independence Movement (MIC), who seek independence for Cabinda exclave in west, police 13 March released a dozen activists but some 50 remained in detention and began hunger strike in protest. Delegation from main opposition party National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) visited Cabinda early March to assess situation, with UNITA leader Adalberto Costa Júnior 11 March criticising security forces for arbitrary arrests.
Movement for secession of Cabinda exclave in west, Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), and its armed wing, Armed Forces of Cabinda (FAC), 28 Feb announced resumption of armed struggle, claiming govt has turned its back on dialogue and stepped up violent repression. Throughout month police reportedly arrested 77 separatist militants and supporters of smaller Cabinda Independence Movement (MIC), including nine members of local church and its pastor who preaches for self-determination. Prosecutors 13 Feb summoned two MPs including former governor of capital Luanda over alleged corruption; first MPs to be investigated since President Lourenço began anti-corruption drive in 2017.
Security forces continued operations in east to curb irregular artisanal diamond mining; NGO Human Rights Watch 14 Nov urged govt to halt mass deportations from east and investigate alleged abuses by security forces after estimated over 400,000 migrants mainly from DR Congo forced to flee back across border.
Amid govt crackdown on irregular artisanal diamond mining in east, security forces and locals in Lucapa, Lunda Norte province in north east 3-5 Oct attacked and looted Congolese, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee across border into DR Congo; at least six killed. DR Congo 16 Oct condemned what it called Angola’s violent expulsion of Congolese. UN 26 Oct said 330,000 people had reportedly crossed border and that security forces on both sides had committed human rights violations. Angolan govt denied accusations, claiming 380,000 people had left over previous month, most voluntarily.
Former President dos Santos 8 Sept stepped down as leader of ruling party Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and same day party congress elected current President Lourenço as new leader. State prosecutor 24 Sept said José Filomeno dos Santos, son of former president and former manager of sovereign wealth fund, had been detained on suspicion of various economic crimes including embezzlement and fraud.
Thirteen members of secessionist group Cabinda Independence Movement arrested 10 Aug during meeting to organise public debate on Cabinda enclave’s autonomy; acquitted of crimes against state security 17 Aug.
In apparent extrajudicial killing, Criminal Investigation Service agent 1 June shot dead suspected criminal; interior ministry same day confirmed killing and condemned agent. Human Rights Watch 6 June urged govt to investigate “grave right’s abuses” by security forces.
Separatist rebel faction Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave-Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC) late April proposed roadmap for peace and 7 May said it sought dialogue with govt to end hostilities. Former President dos Santos 25 May confirmed he will step aside as president of ruling party MPLA.
President Lourenco 23 April sacked head of armed forces and foreign intelligence service, continuing purge of officials accused of alleged corruption and connected to former President dos Santos.
President Lourenço, elected in Aug, continued purge of top officials: 15 Nov sacked board of state oil company including its chair Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former President dos Santos, and 20 Nov replaced heads of police and intelligence.
President Lourenço, elected in Aug, moved to consolidate his authority by removing VP Vicente and Minister of State Manuel “Kopelipa” Hélder Vieira Dias Jr.
Electoral commission 6 Sept announced definitive results of 23 Aug general election: ruling MPLA party won 61.07% majority in legislative elections, two major opposition parties UNITA and CASA-CE won 26.68% and 9.45% respectively; commission denied main opposition group UNITA’s claims of electoral fraud. Constitutional Court 13 Sept rejected UNITA’s 9 Sept appeal to annul election results over alleged vote rigging. President-elect João Lourenço took office 26 Sept.
Ruling MPLA party won reduced majority (down from 72% of vote to 61%) in 23 Aug general election amid opposition parties’ accusations of vote-rigging: main opposition group UNITA 25 Aug rejected provisional result, claiming it did not match its own count; smaller opposition group CASA-CE also rejected result as “impossible”. UN mid-Aug began relocating 33,000 Congolese refugees from reception centres to new settlement 100km from Congolese border (see also DRC).
Campaigning for 23 Aug general elections officially began 23 July. Govt mid-July reportedly said EU election observers welcome but they would not have unrestricted access to all polling stations, as demanded by EU; EU 28 July said it would send small team of experts to assess elections, not Electoral Observation Mission, as govt did not agree to conditions. DRC 13 July sentenced in absentia President Dos Santos’ Congolese son-in-law and Kabila’s fierce critic Sindika Dokolo to one year in prison for real estate fraud (see DRC).
Separatist rebel faction Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave-Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC) 19 June said it had attacked govt forces in Buco-Zau area killing seven soldiers. Police fired on protestors 24 June marching to Cuango in centre north calling for independence of eastern Lunda Chokwe region, killing one. Portuguese judge 21 June ruled that corruption and money laundering charges against VP Vicente were valid and all suspects should stand trial.
UN and govt end month said over 25,000 refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had crossed into Lunda Norte province fleeing violence in Kasai region (see DRC); troops 21 May deployed along border. As speculation grew over President Dos Santos’s health, govt 29 May confirmed he had been in Spain for treatment but had returned home.
Govt 24 April said it would hold general elections 23 Aug. UN Refugee Agency 21 April said fighting in DRC between govt forces and Kamuina Nsapu militia has forced over 11,000 people to cross border into Angola, arriving mainly in Dundo, capital of Lunda Norte Province.
Separatist rebel faction Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave-Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC) early March said it had attacked govt forces (FAA) 28 Feb at Munenga killing eight FAA, and on 1 March at Chinganga killing two FAA. Luanda court sentenced eight out of 35 accused members of opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to between four and ten years in prison for plotting coup against President dos Santos.
Separatist rebel Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) claimed to have attacked Angolan Armed Forces position 23 Jan in Chibango area, Massabi region, killing two soldiers.
Ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) 2 Dec said President dos Santos will not be party’s candidate in 2017 elections. Separatist rebel Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) claimed to have killed six soldiers 5 Dec in clashes in Mbongozi-Muno village near Buco-Zau.
Separatist rebel Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) claimed they killed twelve Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) troops in ambush 4 Sept in northern Buco-Zau region, near border with Republic of Congo. FLEC 20 Sept accused FAA of extrajudicial execution in Republic of Congo. FLEC 29 Sept said clashes between FLEC and FAA 23 Sept and 25 Sept on outskirts of Makumeni in Buco-Zau region killed three FLEC and eighteen FAA.
Clashes between rebel Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) and Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) intensified late July and 4-6 Aug in several areas reportedly killing at least two FLEC and 42 FAA. Ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party at congress 17-20 Aug re-elected sole nominee President dos Santos party leader and named his daughter Welwitschia and son José Filomeno to MPLA Central Committee.
Secessionist group Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) late May reportedly raided offshore Chevron gas platform, threatened foreign workers. FLEC Commander Sem Medo 22 June claimed group killed fourteen soldiers late May. Clashes 25-26 June left seven soldiers, two FLEC dead in Miconje area. Death of FLEC historic leader Nzita Tiago 3 June prompted uncertainty over future leadership: son Emmanuel Nzita and FLEC VP Alexandre Tati both claimed presidency; Emmanuel Nzita 21 June called on all FLEC factions to unite.
Police acknowledged to press that officers 8 May killed opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) supporter in Malanje; 24 May detained and beat Voice of America correspondent in Luanda; 27 May arrested four members of activists’ alliance Union of Activists in the Eighteen Provinces in Malanje (UA18P). Police and UNITA 27 May jointly confirmed deaths of three UNITA supporters in attack by members of ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in Cubal, Benguela province; govt 27 May said it had created commission to investigate incident. Supreme Court 20 May acquitted Cabinda activist Marcos Mavungo, arrested March 2015 for allegedly planning violent protest against state.
Clashes intensified in Cabinda between Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) and govt forces (FAA), with FLEC reporting some 47 FAA killed in four FLEC ambushes 9-15 April; FAA chief of staff Sachipengo Nunda 20 April dismissed rebel claims. Opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) 4 April called for national peace and reconciliation forum; FLEC 16 April welcomed initiative. Security services 23 April violently dispersed political rally of UNITA’s provincial secretary in Mucusso, Kuando Kubango region, reportedly injuring twelve.
Clashes in Cabinda escalated between Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) and govt forces (FAA): FLEC 12 March reportedly ambushed FAA patrol between Dinge and Inhuca, leaving 29 FAA killed; 13 March reportedly ambushed FAA convoy between Quissoqui and Caio Tembo, ten FAA and three FLEC killed; 16 March ambushed FAA patrol between Boma Lubinda and Chivovo, seven FAA killed. FLEC 29 Feb reported killing four FAA soldiers near Micuma, Buco-Zau region. FLEC 22 March called all “Western expatriates” to leave Cabinda. President Dos Santos, in power since 1979, 11 March announced he would retire from politics in 2018, generating speculation over succession. Court 28 March jailed seventeen activists for “acts of rebellion” with sentences ranging from two to over eight years.
Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) 18 Feb announced return to full-scale hostilities following series of reported attacks against govt forces (FAA): FLEC 7 Feb ambushed FAA patrol in Chivoco, Massabi region, three soldiers killed, four injured; 12 Feb ambushed FAA troops in Buco Zau region, five soldiers and one FLEC killed.
Govt early-May launched investigation into 16 April police raid on “Seventh Day Light of the World Church” in central Humabo province, following opposition accusations police killed some 1,080 during operation; police reported thirteen civilians, nine police killed. UNHCHR 12 May urged govt ensure “meaningful, independent” investigation; govt 16 May demanded apology.
Amid rising political tensions, police 3 Sept forcibly dispersed rare demonstration against President Dos Santos’s 32 year rule by hundreds of youth; attacked protesters again 8, 24 Sept. Ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola 25 Sept mobilised tens of thousands to march in support for govt.
Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda- Armed Forces of Cabinda claimed responsibility for 9 Nov attack on military vehicle protecting convoy of Chinese miners in north, killing at least 1 soldier and driver. Over 650 reported raped since Sept as govt expelled thousands of people accused of being illegal immigrants from DR Congo (see DRC).
Gunmen 8 Jan opened fire on Togo football squad in Cabinda exclave, killing 2 Togolese officials, 1 Angolan. 2 factions of 30-year insurgency Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Flec), despite little reported activity for 2 years, claimed responsibility. Secretary-General of Flec splinter faction later announced attack was a mistake and aimed to target Angolan security guards. Authorities 11 Jan said 2 Flec members arrested for attack. Several civil rights activists also held incommunicado since attack.
Ruling MPLA won landslide victory in 5 Aug legislative elections; gained 82 per cent of vote and two- thirds parliamentary majority (needed to amend constitution). Opposition UNITA, with 10 per cent, conceded defeat. EU observers said vote an “advance for democracy” but fell short of international standards, citing disorganised polling in Luanda and govt monopoly over state media, institutions.
Campaigning began 5 Aug ahead of 5 Sept parliamentary elections, first since 1992. Opposition parties, rights groups accuse govt of extensive pre-poll abuses, including squeezing out opposition media and campaigning, interference in electoral commission. Founding UNITA member Jorge Valentim 19 Aug defected to ruling MPLA.
Last active faction of secessionist Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) reportedly killed 3 soldiers, 1 foreign worker in separate attacks in oil-rich Cabinda region 3 March. Group demanded resolution of Cabinda’s status, vowed ongoing fight against “domination” and Luanda- controlled foreign investment. Government dismissed FLEC claims; suggested attack criminal. Government 20 March announced plan to disarm civilians of civil war firearms.
President dos Santos announced 5-6 September 2008 date for parliamentary elections, ﬁrst ﬁxed date set since polls ﬁrst agreed 2004.
Security cooperation deal signed with Zimbabwe, but Luanda denied reports of paramilitary police deployment to Harare to support crackdown there. It further denied reports Angolan troops supported DR Congo army during confrontations in Kinshasa that killed hundreds. In sign of renewed fighting in Cabinda, FLEC rebels claimed 12 army soldiers killed. President dos Santos, in power since 1979, said “natural candidate” for 2009 elections by MPLA party.
Government announced new delay in forthcoming elections, citing difficulties of voter registration process: legislative round now due 2008, presidential 2009. Limited voter registration began in November; due to end by June. Delay likely to increase tension with opposition parties, including UNITA, as dos Santos had in 2004 promised 2006 elections.
Voter registration began ahead of first elections since 1992. No date set yet for 2007 poll to select president and legislature. 63 members of opposition arrested in attempted protest over alleged government embezzlement of public funds.
UNITA opposition party called for government dialogue with factions of Cabindan society opposed to September peace treaty signed by FLEC-FAC faction. UN World Food Programme announced would end aid to continent’s second-largest oil producer by year-end.
Peace deal signed with Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave separatists following July ceasefire, but smaller factions refused to sign. Parliament approved amnesty deal for separatists and pledged Cabindan integration into civil service and army.
Government signed ceasefire agreement with Cabinda separatist umbrella group Forum for Dialogue, ending 30-year conflict and providing greater autonomy for enclave. Agreement includes immediate reduction of government troops in Cabinda, and amnesty for separatists to be approved by parliament.
Speculation surrounding health of President Dos Santos increased after he visited Brazil for second time in month. 3 soldiers killed in northeast in ambush by FLEC Cabinda separatists.
Government claimed negotiations held on “special status” of Cabinda enclave, but civil society and FLEC separatists denied talks took place.
President Eduardo Dos Santos indicated presidential elections to be postponed until 2007 to allow for infrastructure repair and voter registration.
UNITA president, Isaias Samakuva, told European Parliament human rights abuses in Angola now routine and troubled Cabinda province merits special attention.
Forced removal of residents from Luanda’s Cambamba suburbs raised concern of imminent land conflict.
Concern over increasing incidents of politically- motivated violence between ruling MPLA and opposition UNITA parties as Angola prepares for first post-war poll; parties agreed to hold simultaneous presidential/legislative elections mid-2006.
National Electoral Commission took office 19 August; initial task to register voters for first post-war elections in 2006. Opposition party UNITA accused government of using position to campaign unfairly ahead of time. First repatriation in 2 years of Angolan refugees to northern Cabinda enclave began.
Supreme Court ruled law barring President dos Santos from running in next election unconstitutional. Government troops reportedly undertaking major offensive against Cabindan FLEC separatist rebels.
Debate continued over preparations for September 2006 elections. President Dos Santos asked Supreme Court to rule on constitutionality of electoral law.