An official shows an empty ballot box during the counting of votes at the end of the 2017 general election in Luanda, which marked the end of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos's 38-year reign in Angola. Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP via Getty Images.

The electoral contest in Angola – which officially started on 24 July – is fiercely competitive. An Afrobarometer survey in May found the opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) party was trailing the governing Movement for Popular Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party by just seven percentage points, with around half of voters still undecided.

The ruling MPLA is headed by current president João Lourenço and the UNITA party is led by Adalberto Costa Júnior. A decision in May by the Constitutional Court to rule UNITA had to campaign on its own and not as part of an opposition coalition is a reminder that the MPLA capitalizes on its incumbency.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angola is entering the new year with a bang. Facing a struggling economy and fast-approaching elections, President João Lourenço is working to combat rampant corruption in the country.

Angola’s judiciary is prosecuting two of former president José Eduardo dos Santos’s adult children, people once considered untouchable. His son, José Filomeno dos Santos, is accused of embezzling $500 million from the country’s sovereign wealth funds and is standing trial. Meanwhile, the Angolan government kicked off the new year by seizing all of the domestic assets held by Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s wealthiest woman and the former president’s daughter, accusing her of being responsible for the transfer of more than $1 billion from public companies.…  Seguir leyendo »

After almost two decades of silence in the aftermath of its civil war (1975-2002), the Angolan government on 10 December 2019 changed its course by launching a “Reconciliation Plan in Memory of Victims of the Armed Conflicts in Angola”. Why was this plan established and how likely is it that this new approach will contribute to the healing of open wounds and genuine reconciliation?

Straight after its war of independence against the Portuguese colonizer, Angola went through a devastating civil war between 1975 and 2002. What could be characterized as a ‘proxy Cold-War’ in the 1970s and 1980s, turned in the 1990s into a ‘greed’ based war over the control of natural resources.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angolan President João Lourenço. EFE-EPAAlexei Druzhinin/Sputnik

Two years into his presidency, Angolan leader João Lourenço is treading a difficult course between continuity and radical reform.

Faced with a persistent economic crisis, the new president needs to take bold action to open up the economy to competition and renewed foreign investment, and reduce the country’s dependency on oil.

To do so, he has to loosen the stranglehold of the country’s elites on key sectors of the economy. These are competing networks of interests within the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the security forces that the previous president, José Eduardo dos Santos, had carefully cultivated in his 38 years in power, by using the country’s vast oil revenues.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angola’s President João Lourenço has been making a great show lately of advocating for free and fair elections in nearby countries. Following a canceled summit in July, Lourenço met with Congo leader Joseph Kabila this week to discuss the upcoming December elections — presumably to encourage Kabila to keep with constitutional term limits and hold to his promise to abstain from running. And Lourenço sent officials to observe Zimbabwe’s July 30 elections, knowing they would be volatile.

So, is Angola a model of electoral democracy? Hardly. Lourenço helms a government with a record of political repression and electoral fraudulence.

Elected in 2017 with the slogan “improve what’s good, correct what’s bad”, Lourenço is the first new president the nation has had in 38 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

An oil and gas drilling rig operating in Angola comes to Walvis Bay, Namibia for maintenance. Photo: Getty Images.

An era is ending in Angola, as one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, President José Eduardo dos Santos, steps down after 37 years in power. What happens next is significant not only to Angola, but to Africa and the world, particularly those dependent on Angola’s vast oil reserves.

Angola’s international strategic importance is built upon oil. Many international oil companies operate in Angola, including U.S. supermajors Exxon and Chevron. Due to US shale oil and gas production, there has been a sharp decline in American demand for Angola’s oil and Luanda, Angola’s capital, is increasingly reliant on Beijing and other Asian partners as markets.…  Seguir leyendo »

José Eduardo dos Santos in 1989. Photo: Getty Images.

When it was announced in 2016 that President Jose Eduardo dos Santos would step down following elections, taking place this week, news reports highlighted a legacy of nepotism, inept governance, human rights violations, corruption and financial bankruptcy – echoing many within Angolan civil society, young people, and intellectuals. But for many others, Jose Eduardo dos Santos remains the father figure of the nation – and, rightly or wrongly, the man who ended the war.

Dos Santos became president of Angola in 1979, four years after the country’s independence from Portugal, at a time when a bloody and ferocious war was already being fought between his MPLA government and the opposition UNITA, erstwhile allies in the independence struggle.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angola increasingly assesses that an indefinite delay to elections in Congo by Preisdent Joseph Kabila will be detrimental for long-term stability. Photo: Getty Images.

After its August parliamentary elections, a new president will lead Angola for the first time since 1979. This is a watershed moment – change is very likely, including more focus on diversification of the economy and less presidential dominance in decision-making. There will also have to be some rethinking of foreign policy – most notably on Angola’s relationship with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

What happens in the DRC is a major, longstanding strategic concern for Angola – and Luanda invests more deeply in strategic thinking on Congo than most of its neighbours. On the DRC, Angola is an essential stakeholder and special envoys on Congo and the Great Lakes region, opposition politicians and Congolese officials regularly visit Luanda.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angolan Defence Minister Joao Lourenco. Photo: Getty Images.

After sending signals of his plans to retire from politics for nearly a year, Angola’s president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos—the second-longest-ruling leader in Africa—announced earlier this month that he will step down at the end of his current mandate and not run in August elections. That will bring an end to a presidency that began in 1979, when Jimmy Carter was in the White House. The transition from dos Santos’ rule is the most significant political event in Angola since its independence from Portugal in 1974, and comes at a time of deep economic and social crisis in the oil-rich country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuban President Fidel Castro says goodbye to Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos in Havana on 19 December 1988. Photo by Getty Images.

'Fidel is a friend, a comrade. He is an unforgettable figure to us. His memory will be always remembered in Angola,' said the country’s vice president Manuel Vicente after signing the condolence book dedicated to Fidel Castro at the residency of the Cuban ambassador to Angola.

There is no doubt that one of the greatest foreign influences on modern Angola was Cuba’s socialist policy of internationalist solidarity'. This took the form of sending troops and aid workers to Angola in support of the country’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government from 1975, as it waged a conflict against apartheid-era South Africa and CIA-backed nationalist forces (also supported by then-Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo).…  Seguir leyendo »

Antes de que los horrores del último brote de Ébola en África occidental pudieran empezar a borrársenos de la mente, el virus Zika estalló como un riesgo importante para la salud global y hoy ocupa a investigadores y médicos en Sudamérica, América central y el Caribe. Sin embargo, la cantidad de víctimas de otro virus -la fiebre amarilla- está creciendo a pasos acelerados.

En el sudoeste de África, Angola enfrenta una epidemia seria de fiebre amarilla, la primera en ese país en 30 años. Desde que el virus apareció en Luanda, la capital y la ciudad más poblada de Angola, en diciembre pasado, le provocó la muerte a 293 personas e infectó, se sospecha, a 2.267.…  Seguir leyendo »

Plans for a 1,410-kilometre heated pipeline from Hoima in western Uganda to Tanzania’s deep water port at Tanga have been chosen to carry Uganda’s oil to international markets, over the initially favoured ‘northern route’ through Kenya. Heavy lobbying by international oil companies, changes in regional politics and Kenya’s fragile security situation seem to be major reasons behind Kampala’s change of heart. But by engaging a member long seen as a hindrance to integration efforts, a cross-border project with Tanzania could also help spur the development of the East African Community (EAC).

How the Kenya deal fell through

On 10 August 2015, the presidents of Uganda and Kenya publically agreed to jointly develop a pipeline, depending on Kenya meeting a number of conditions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armando Manuel, Angola’s finance minister, emphasized his country’s excellent relations with the international financial institutions in his February speech at Chatham House. There was no hint at that time however that Angola was shortly to seek financial support from the IMF. In Angolan government circles, IMF assistance is seen as coming with too many conditions, and most believed that with international reserves of about $24.5 billion in January, Angola did not need IMF support.  But oil prices have remained significantly below $45 per barrel throughout the first quarter of the year, the figure used to calculate Angola’s 2016 budget, and are unlikely to increase dramatically any time soon.…  Seguir leyendo »

President José Eduardo dos Santos announcement that he will step down and leave politics in 2018 after almost four decades in power is a watershed − ending a presidency that has run since 1979. It is a surprise − most observers expected him to finish a second electoral mandate and retire in 2022.

But is it a mirage? President dos Santos has signalled several times since 2001 that he was considering retirement, and used these occasions to smoke out competitors for the presidency and moved to stunt their aspirations. Two years is a long time, even for Angolan politics, and this could happen again.…  Seguir leyendo »

President José Eduardo dos Santos, whose party will no doubt win Friday’s election, has ruled Angola for 33 years. He once declared that democracy and human rights “do not fill up bellies.” But he has not even given ordinary Angolans bread as a substitute for freedom.

In 2002, after emerging from nearly three decades of civil war, Angola’s government began an ambitious national reconstruction program carried out and financed by China. As the state’s coffers filled with oil wealth, there was general optimism that millions of impoverished Angolans would share in the peace dividends. But hope was short-lived.

Mr. dos Santos hasn’t relied on Angolan workers for national reconstruction, which would create jobs and spur the economy.…  Seguir leyendo »

El ataque al autobús que transportaba al equipo de Togo que se dirigía al enclave de Cabinda para disputar la Copa de África de naciones por parte del Frente de Liberación del Enclave de Cabinda (FLEC) suscita varias reflexiones.

1. La primera se refiere al impacto mediático, y por tanto político, del fútbol. Si el FLEC hubiera atacado al ejército angoleño y hubiera matado a diez soldados, nadie habría hablado del tema. El hecho de que fuera atacado un autobús de jugadores togoleses le permitió tener un impacto incomparable. Ahora todo el mundo conoce el enclave de Cabinda, desconocido por casi todos hasta entonces.…  Seguir leyendo »

Physically imposing, vastly talented, sometimes irascible, often headstrong: Emmanuel Adebayor is no one’s idea of a sporting softie. So the television footage of an emotional Adebayor clinging tearfully to his team-mates was especially poignant. It followed a lethal gun attack in Angola on the bus of the Togo national team at the Cup of African Nations. More deaths in Africa; but this time they have captured our attention.

For Adebayor, one of the English Premier League’s most recognisable players, it should have been a triumphant return to his home continent. Instead, the Togo team has been ordered to return home, and Adebayor has found himself at the centre of an uncomfortable debate about the ability of Africa to host a safe World Cup later this year.…  Seguir leyendo »

The convictions of Pierre Falcone, Arcadi Gaydamak, ex-president's son Jean-Christophe Mitterrand and Charles Pasqua in a French court for arms trafficking to Angola have exposed the impunity with which arms traffickers supplied weapons to Angola during its 27-year civil war.

In an effort to stem the conflict, the United Nations imposed an arms embargo on both the government and the rebels. Both parties contravened the international decision during the second (1992-94) and third (1998-2002) periods of the civil war. The Angolan government employed primarily the services of Pierre Falcone and Gaydamak to procure the arms, while the main arms dealer supplying Unita rebels was the infamous Ukrainian Victor Bout, who is currently sitting in jail in Thailand.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las actuales perspectivas económicas de la Angola actual: ¿la maldición o la bendición del petróleo?

Tema: La autora examina el boom económico que está experimentando Angola actualmente, en un contexto postelectoral, a pesar de la mala situación económica mundial. Aunque las impresionantes tasas de crecimiento del país se debieron en un principio a los elevados precios del petróleo, la economía se está viendo impulsada crecientemente por el sector no petrolero, fundamentalmente por la construcción y por un elevado gasto público bajo los auspicios del programa nacional de reconstrucción.

Resumen: A pesar de la crisis financiera mundial, la economía de Angola parece estar progresando aceleradamente, no obstante los importantes retos a los que se enfrenta el desarrollo.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Rafael Marques, an Angolan journalist, is the recipient of the 2006 Civil Courage Prize, awarded annually by the trustees of the Northcote Parkinson Fund. He is the author of a human rights report, "Diamonds of Humiliation and Misery" (THE WASHINGTON POST, 06/11/06):

The upcoming Hollywood feature movie "Blood Diamond," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, promises to cast a spotlight on the role of so-called conflict diamonds in fueling brutal warfare in parts of Africa. In my own country, Angola, funds obtained through the trade in such diamonds helped finance a 27-year civil war, which ended four years ago. And even though Angola's mining areas are technically at peace, diamonds are once again the force behind a different kind of violence that is no less sinister.…  Seguir leyendo »