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Angolan independence leader Holden Roberto dies

  • Story Highlights
  • Roberto a central figure in Angola's struggle for independence from Portugal
  • Founded the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) in early 1960s
  • Angola fell into a brutal 30-year civil war after independence
  • Roberto moved to Paris, returned in 1992 for elections, period of political turmoil
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LUANDA, Angola (Reuters) -- Holden Roberto, a central figure in Angola's struggle for independence from Portugal, died on Thursday in the capital of Luanda, the state newspaper said on Friday.

Holden Roberto, left, a father of Angola's independence, shown in 1975. He died August 2, 2007, in Luanda.

Roberto founded the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) in the early 1960s and presided over the party until his death at age 84, the Jornal de Angola said. It said he died of an illness but did not give details.

Roberto was one of the leaders who signed accords that led to the country's independence in 1975.

Angola then fell into a civil war spanning nearly three decades that killed around 1 million people and displaced millions more.

Roberto, who moved to Paris at independence, came back to Angola to take part in elections in 1992 which were followed by political turmoil.

The presidential poll was aborted after a disputed first round, prompting a return to the conflict between the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and government forces. The war ended in 2002.

The FNLA is Angola's third-biggest opposition party after UNITA, with five members in parliament.

Angola, which is enjoying an oil boom, high economic growth and widespread foreign investment, is expected to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in 2008 and 2009, the first national polls in some 15 years. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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