Angola Table of Contents
The history of the MPLA party and government is ridden with factional strife based on ideological, political, ethnic, and personal rivalries. In the early 1970s, Daniel Chipenda, a member of the MPLA Central Committee, was thought to have instigated two assassination attempts against President Neto and was expelled from the party in December 1974. As leader of the so-called Eastern Revolt faction, he joined the rival FNLA, based in Kinshasa, Zaire, as assistant secretary general. Former MPLA president Mário de Andrade also opposed Neto's leadership and attempted to rally support for his so-called Active Revolt faction in 1974. In May 1977, Nito Alves, former commander of the first military division and minister of interior, spearheaded an abortive coup with the support of an extremist faction. Many MPLA officials were killed, including seven Central Committee members (see Independence and the Rise of the MPLA Government , ch. 1). And in early 1988, seven military intelligence officers were reported to have been sentenced to imprisonment for fifteen to twenty years and expelled from FAPLA for plotting a coup against President dos Santos.
Other sources of dissent included several small clandestine groups, which, to avoid infiltration, remained anonymous and restricted recruitment mainly to Angolan expatriates and exiles. They reportedly represented a variety of ideological inclinations, were disaffected by the continuing civil war, economic chaos, and political intolerance, and advocated development and a pluralistic political system. In 1987 about two dozen members of one such group, the Independent Democrats, were imprisoned and their leader sentenced to death. These events cast doubt on the group's continued ability to survive.
Religious sects were another source of antigovernment agitation. The Roman Catholic Church was often at odds with the MPLA-PT government but did not openly challenge it. More problematic was the government's clashes with such independent sects as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Our Lord Jesus Christ Church in the World (Kimbanguist), whose members were popularly called Mtokoists, after the sect's founder, Simon Mtoko (also spelled Simão Toco). After Mtoko's death in 1984, elements of the Mtokoist sect engaged in alleged "antipatriotic activities" that were supposedly responsible for riots that occurred in at least three cities. Angolan security forces were believed to have sponsored rebellious factions within the leadership. During 1986 and 1987, more than 100 Mtokoists were killed in riots and demonstrations, and the sect was banned for one year. Jehovah's Witnesses were banned from practicing their religion for their refusal to perform military service (see Interest Groups , ch. 4).
Data as of February 1989