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Uncertainty and poverty as Angola enters an election year

With an election looming, what does 2017 hold for Angola?

 


 

At the end of 2016, rumours began to circulate about the ill health of Angola's president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

 

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These were shortly followed by hazy reports that he will step down, and João Lourenço, one of the 'old guard' generals, a long time party member and Minister of Defence, was appointed party Vice President and indicated as dos Santos’s successor for the elections planned for later this year.

Suchpractices as these rumours and nominations are not uncommon, and although this may be an earnest announcement, it may also be that this is a test - of loyalty for party members, of rising interest groups, of alignments in the army, of reactions from opposition, civil society and churches, other countries, amongst other factors.


New hope for a new leader

In the current climate of economic crisis and social unrest, a new leader could be a breath of fresh air and could offer some new hope for the more than 20 million poor and marginalised citizens, who account for almost 90% of the total population.

Angola has a constitution that establishes democratic rule of law and guarantees basic human rights for its citizens.

 

However, the government continues to block popular protests and arrest activists, and to try and diminish the space for civil society.

In January, the president’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, reportedly took over the country’s largest bank, Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA).
She already owns the country’s largest phone operator, Unitel, and was also recently appointed as head of Sonangol, the national oil firm.According toForbes,last year she was worth approximately 3.2 billion dollars, and she is reputed to be the wealthiest woman on the continent.

Meanwhile, the rest of the population has been left in despair by the collapse of the economy, triggered by the fall in oil prices.

 

Financial and monetary chaos, rampant inflation, high levels of unemployment, unpaid and delayed salaries, and even poorer quality public services, have generated further poverty and misery.

 

Our wish for 2017

The question that now remains is: how can Angolans improve their lives and nation - where there is more than enough for everyone to live with dignity - in these coming years of change?

As we look forward, our wish for Angola in 2017 is that there is growing justice and real peace.

More justice in the use of power is needed at all levels, to balance political systems and sustain prosperity.

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Related content

37 years after a 37-year-old dos Santos assumed power, could Angola see a new leader? 
(Please note this article, hosted on an external site, is in Spanish)

Solidarity with activists in Angola

About the author

Tax of Life Report

Elizabeth Levitz is Christian Aid's Programme Support Officer for Angola.

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