Angola’s 2017 election campaigns kick off

Deutsche Welle) Campaigns for the August presidential election in Angola have begun. The poll will mark the end of the 38-year rule of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who is not running for reelection.
Dos Santos, who is believed to be seriously ill, is Africa’s second longest serving head of state after Equatorial Guinea’s longtime leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

A total of six parties will compete for seats in parliament. The head of state is elected as an indirect part of this process. The first candidate on the list of the party which receives the most votes automatically becomes president.

But this time it will not be dos Santos. At the MPLA congress in December 2016, dos Santos announced his resignation and Joao Lourenco was designated as Angola’s next strongman.

There is little doubt in Angola that he will become president after the elections. “This time, too, the opposition will not get enough votes,” journalist Jose Adalberto told DW.

“The opposition is fragmented and has no strong leadership. It does not seem to be able to transmit its message intelligibly.”

“Unfortunately, even in 2017, there can be no talk of equal chances,” said Teka Ntu whose party, the National Patriotic Alliance (APN), was founded only two years ago.

“All parties are equal but the MPLA is more equal than the others and that has always been the case,” he said. Ntu, who is in charge of foreign policy at the APN, has been living in the German city of Essen for over 10 years.

Even if dos Santos is gone, his influence remains and is still strong because, as many critics put, the new president must accept his appointments.

Many senior government officials are likely to retain their posts once dos Santos leaves power. During the last parliamentary session, a new law was pushed through ensuring that decisions taken by the outgoing president may not be changed. The law was passed by a huge majority, with only the two major opposition parties, UNITA and CASA-CE, voting against it.

They account for only 40 out of a total of 220 members of parliament.

“This law, which the president leaves us, has created a lot of polemics,” said Adalberto. “The capacity of the new president to take action has been limited. Joao Lourenco is himself a general and will want to make his own personnel decisions concerning the military, intelligence and police.”

(Photo: Angola’s next president Lourenço Marques. credit: DW))

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