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Jonas Savimbi


Founding leader of the Angolan insurgent group UNITA, Angolan presidential candidate in 1994.

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Created: 7th Jul 2008
Modified: 10th Jul 2008
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Jonas Savimbi
(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: Aug/3/1934
Gender: male
Place of Origin: Angola
Savimbi was born in Portuguese Angola, the son of a railroad worker. He was educated in Portuguese missionary schools all his life and went on to attain a doctrate in Political Science at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland in 1965.

In 1961, he joined the rebel group National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) in the anti-colonial struggle against Portuguese rule, but broke with the organization in 1965 after accusing it of being to concerned with localized ethnic interests in Northern Angola.

From 1964 until 1966, Savimbi trained in insurgent strategy in China. Returning to Angola in 1966, he founded the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to continue fighting Portuguese rule.

When the Portuguese left in 1976, Savimbi continued to maintain his insurgency against the officially recognized government of Angola, the Marxist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), eventually declaring himself as a fervent anti-communist and winning material support from the United States and South Africa.

Savimbi led the UNITA insurgency throughout his life and is widely blamed for the prolonged nature of the Angolan Civil War. In 1992, following the 1993 Lisbon Accords, Savimbi became a presidential candidate in an election which was meant to resolve the conflict by peaceful means. Though the election was considered fair by most international observers in the area, Savimbi declared widespread corruption. Having lost the election, he returned to fighting, and the war continued until 2002 when he was killed in combat by the MPLA.

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