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FLEC 1 (Cabinda, Angola)

Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda

Last modified: 2005-11-26 by bruce berry
Keywords: cabinda | flec |
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FLEC introduction

Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda - FLEC (Liberation Front of the enclave of Cabinda) was created in 1963 as a coalition of 3 movements - MLEC (Liberation Movement of the enclave of Cabinda), CAUNC (Action Committee of National Cabindese Union) and ALLIAMA (National Alliance of the Mayombe) - Mayombe is a mountain between the Cabinda and the Republic of the Congo). That movement adopted a horizontal tricolour of blue-yellow-red.
Joan-Frances Blanc, 4 May 1998

I found in the Political Handbook of the World (1997) the following:
Since the early 1960s a number of groups have been active in the oil-rich Cabinda enclave under the banner of Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda - FLEC). The original FLEC was founded in August 1963 by Luis Ranque Franque who, encouraged by Portuguese authorities to continue separatist activities, refused to join other Angolan independence movements. In 1974 the Front's attempts to gain military control of the enclave were rebuffed by the MPLA and, in 1975, the movement broke into three factions:

  • FLEC-Ranque Franque
  • FLEC-N'Zita, led by Henrique Tiaho N'Zita
  • FLEC-Lubota, led by Francisco Xavier Lubota
In November 1977 a splinter group styling itself the Military Command for the Liberation of Cabinda was organized, while in June 1979 the Armed Forces for the Liberation of Cabinda established another splinter, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Cabinda (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Cabinda - MPLC). In the 1980s FLEC-UNITA, or UNIFLEC, was reported to be operating in Cabinda with South African assistance, however the group's activities ceased following withdrawal of Pretoria's aid. In the early 1990s two other groups, the National Union for the Liberation of Cabinda (União Nacional de Libertação de Cabinda - UNLC), led by Lumingu Luis Gimby, and the Communist Committee of Cabinda (Comité Communista de Cabinda - CCC), led by Kaya Mohamed Yay, were linked to separatist activities.

Anxious to create ties to the economically important region, both the government and UNITA have named Cabindans to leadership positions in their parties. Nevertheless, in July 1991 a joint MPLA-PT/UNITA offensive was launched in Cabinda to eradicate the terrorists. Meanwhile, although past attempts to unify the numerous FLEC factions had proven short-lived, it was reported that four of the identifiable groups (FLEC-Lubota, the UNLC, CCC, and FLEC-Renovada) were attempting to form a united front, FLEC-N'Zita reportedly refusing to participate.

In mid-1992 increased incidents of FLEC initiated violence were reported in the province, with the situation further deteriorating during the runup tot the September elections. In August FLEC officials called for a boycott of the balloting. Subsequently, only 19 % of the eligible voters registered, with one observer describing the low turnout as a "referendum on independence". In December FLEC activists, citing the likelihood of further unrest, urged São Tomé and Principe expatriates to depart and in January 1993 Angolan officials charged "Congolese politicians" with supplying arms to the separatists.

In mid-May 1993 FLEC responded to the US recognition of Luanda by declaring that it did not extend to Cabinda and warning that "all those people with companies in Cabinda must choose between supporting the extermination of the Cabindan people or leaving the territory." Following UNITA's capture of Soyo in northwestern Angola in late May, the government, fearing a pact between the separatists and rebels, was reported to be attempting to form an alliance with a FLEC-Renovada opponent, the FLEC-Armed Forces of Cabinda (Forças Armadas do Cabinda - FLEC-FAC). However, after a new guerilla offensive was launched in Cabinda from mid-1995, government and FLEC-R representatives meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, in April 1996 concluded a ceasefire agreement that was thought likely to be observed by other FLEC-factions.

FLEC - 1984 flag

[Angola - FLEC] image by Jarig Bakker, 6 Apr 2001, after image scanned by David Cohen, 4 Apr 2001 from the "Flags of Aspirant Peoples" chart.

To the north of Angola proper is the enclave of Cabinda, which is rich in oil and therefore has considerable significance both to the Angolan government and the western oil companies who exploit it. In 1963 a movement called the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) was formed to press for independence for this territory. FLEC was largely inert during the war against the Portuguese and languished afterwards, although UNITA staged some attacks against oil installations. FLEC was reformed in 1984 and began operations against the MPLA regime. It is currently in negotiation with the government.
FLEC has had its own factional problems and there is (or was) also an organization calling itself 'UNALEC' (presumably, the National Union for the Liberation of the Enclave in Cabinda). Whether this was a split from FLEC, a UNITA front, or merely another name for FLEC, is not clear.
Another organization is the Cabinda Democratic Front.

A flag for FLEC has been reported by "Flags of Aspirant Peoples". It is shown as being a light blue over yellow over red tricolor. In the centre is a brown circle, containing a green triangle on which there is a white star. I have little information regarding the accuracy or symbolism of this flag, although I have seen the triangle/circle device, in black and white, on FLEC literature, so I believe this part at least to be accurate.
Stuart Notholt, 10 Jan 1996

As one of the co-authors of the Flags of Aspirant Peoples Chart in 1994, I hope that it may be of interest to inform you where John Edwards and I obtained our rendition from.  It cam from two different sources; the description from Vexillinfo No. 66, Page 66; and the diagram from a book called Flags of the World - 1981, Page 248 (not the Barraclough/Crampton book). I can not find a copy of this book in my collection, it may have been one of John's books, who no longer lives in Australia. Our design was further confirmed by Mr. Jacek Skorupski of Warsaw, Poland, who kindly sent me a copy of his work, Flagi Malo Znane (Little Known Flags) dated May 1991. He had the central green triangle pointing down but everything else the same.
Ralph Bartlett (Co-Author, Flags of Aspirant Peoples Chart), 6 Apr 2001

FLEC - 1974 flag

[FLEC 1974 flag] image by Jarig Bakker, 7 Apr 2001

To put a little light into the Cabinda flag question here the sources from Flag Bulletin:
Cabinda. Flag Bulletin XVI:5, September-October 1977
Flag description:
."..of three horizontal stripes of light blue over yellow over red, again with a central emblem. The new emblem consisted of a yellow disc, bordered in dark brown and slightly overlapping the top and bottom stripes. Inscribed within was a triangle of light green, apex downwards, surmounted by a white five pointed star. The diameter of the star corresponded to the yellow disc, while the green triangle slightly overlapped the brown border at the three points."
Sources given by Flag Bulletin is a publication named "Le drapeau du Cabinda (n.p.: 1974)", and especially for the flag a "letter from the Embassy of the USA in Kinshasa, dated 16 January 1976, courtesy of Creighton Kern".
Ralf Stelter, 07 Apr 2001

FLEC - 1963 flag

[FLEC 1963 flag] image by Jarig Bakker, 04 April 2001

Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda - FLEC (Liberation Front of the enclave of Cabinda) was created in 1963 as a coalition of 3 movements - MLEC (Liberation Movement of the enclave of Cabinda), CAUNC (Action Committee of National Cabindese Union) and ALLIAMA (National Alliance of the Mayombe) - Mayombe is a mountain between the Cabinda and the Republic of the Congo). That movement adopted a horizontal tricolour of blue-yellow-red.
Joan-Frances Blanc, 4 May 1998

It appears that by 1996 FLEC-Renovada and FLEC-FAC were most prominent. The FLEC-R flag is the WVYNW with red circle (with gap) flag; The FLEC-FAC flag is RYB, but it is more difficult to assign the other posted flags to Cabindan groups. For the time being it seems to me that there is not one flag which represents the whole of Cabinda... But I may be completely wrong here. I admit honestly to not to differentiate between FLEC and FLEC, where every Cabindan knows that the E in the first stands for "Enclave", and in the second for "Estado"...
Jarig Bakker, 05 Apr 2001

Why would Portugal encourage a liberation movement in one of it's colonies? The fact is that it's true. Portugal actively helped, through the political police, the PIDE, and the services of military intelligence, not only Cabindan independentists, but also the UNITA and the FNLA. Portugal's policy (first Salazar and later Marcelo Caetano) was to divide and rule, and therefore assisted all movements that opposed the then already largely majority and Soviet-supported MPLA movement. Also the US and South Africa got actively involved in this anti-MPLA support, with weapons, mercenaries and military training. Later, after 1974, when Portugal went through a democratic revolution, decolonized and ceased it's involvement in Africa,  the anti-MPLA side, was supported by US and South African support (the South African army even made several incursions in Angola during the 1970s and 1980s), whereas the other side was supported mostly by the USSR and Cuba.

Nowadays FLEC-Renovada and FLEC-FAC seem to be the only groups in action there. However, it has been said several times to Portuguese media by ordinary people in the enclave that "the FLEC isn't the men in the bush - the FLEC is all of us". So there's a major support not only for the idea of independence but also for a "FLEC" as a more or less idealized Corporation (if this word exists in English) of this idea. This is to say that I wouldn't be surprised if in the case of sudden dissolution of the current FLECs, new FLECs would arise apparently from the vacuum. Be it relative to an enclave, be it relative to a state.
Jorge Candeias, 05 Apr 2001