101. Editorial Note

The overthrow of Marcello Caetano’s government in Portugal on April 25, 1974, led to a series of negotiations between the metropole and the African liberation movements. President Antônio de Spínola’s July 27 speech regarding the independence of Portugal’s African territories provided the catalyst for an unofficial cease-fire and the formation of transitional governments in Mozambique and Angola.

An agreement with the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO) was reached September 6 and signed September 7 in Lusaka, Zambia. The principal provisions provided for complete independence on June 25, 1975; the formation of a transitional government, appointed by FRELIMO and the Portuguese Government; and a formal cease-fire. The transitional government was sworn in September 20.

Negotiations with the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), were hampered by continued dissension among the leadership. A two-year plan for independence, released August 10 by the Portuguese Government, proposed a coalition government comprised of representatives of the liberation movements and the white Angolan community. The Provisional Government would hold elections for a Constituent Assembly that would draw up a constitution, after which the Assembly would be dissolved. Elections would be held for a Legislative Assembly, and a government representing the Angolan people would be established.

The proposal was immediately rejected by the FNLA, and internal dissent within the MPLA threatened to fracture the organization and dilute the MPLA’s influence. A series of meetings, mediated by the Organization of African Unity and various African leaders, enabled the groups to resolve their differences. An official cease-fire agreement was reached with the FNLA on October 14 and the MPLA on October 21. [Page 235] UNITA had already ceased hostilities June 17. All three movements became legal political parties and established headquarters in Luanda. On January 5, 1975, the liberation groups announced they had established a united front, an important prerequisite for independence negotiations with Portugal to proceed.

An agreement was signed January 15, 1975, between the liberation movements and Portugal, providing for Angolan independence on November 11 and equal representation in a transition government that would take office on January 31, 1975. A High Commissioner was appointed to represent Portugal’s interests until independence. The transitional government was responsible for organizing elections and drafting the fundamental law, which would remain in effect until a constitution was drafted. The agreement, signed at Alvor, Portugal, became known as the Alvor Agreement.