The Marxist president of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and the U.S.-backed guerrilla leader, Jonas Savimbi, will take their quarrel from the bush and battlefield to elections, where both may lose to forces not yet in the field. The Angola accord, with a cease-fire to take effect this month, ends a horrible 16-year war that took some 300,000 lives and produced no winners.
Without 50,000 Cuban troops, 1,000 East German secret policemen and Soviet weapons and aid, the MPLA government of Mr. dos Santos would have fallen in a month. Without South African and U.S. aid, Mr. Savimbi would have been a purely local, tribally based insurrectionist of little account. Yet their accord was not easy. It flowed from U.S.-Soviet understandings of 1988, between the regimes of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev no less, to call off the worldwide wars of surrogates.
The accord followed the agreement of Cubans (Mr. Gorbachev's idea, not Fidel Castro's) to leave, and of South Africa to quit its aid to Mr. Savimbi's UNITA organization and to set Namibia free. But it followed so slowly. A year of tortuous negotiations studiously brokered by the Portuguese government, as the former colonial ruler of Angola, with U.S. and Soviet help, was needed to produce the belated agreement that had seemed inevitable since 1988.