Background to the Angola crisis: What went wrong.

This document describes the background leading to the Estoril Peace Accord in 1991 and the general elections in Angola in November 1992. Under the accord, the MPLA and Unita undertook ensuring that the ceasefire be monitored by representatives from both sides along with international observers. General elections were to be held, monitored by UN. However, the accord failed to define a legal framework to the process, the UN monitoring contingent was too small, and the accord was negotiated at a senior level that didn’t transfer to the provincial level, where cooperation remained nonexistent. The main contenders in the election were the MPLA and Unita. Despite the democratic facade, both parties had their own agenda. Neither the indigenous structures nor the understaffed international outfits were in a position to mediate. The MPLA elected Eduardo dos Santos as presidential candidate but Unita had not developed democratic structures and never made the transition from a guerrilla movement to a political structure. Policy formulation was non-existent. The election was held in September, resulting in an MPLA victory. The pre-election agreement to form a government of national unity by dividing power never materialised. There was almost no dialogue between the two sides. The Angolan crisis illustrated how an internationally supervised democratic process based on compromise between elites can be rendered meaningless by the realities of the power relations within the society.