Angola. There was a historic political shift during the
year when José Eduardo dos Santos resigned after 38 years as
president. He was succeeded by former Defense Minister João
Lourenço, who was the MPLA's new candidate for the ruling
Countryaah.com, MPLA won the parliamentary elections in August, and
according to the constitution, the presidential post goes to
the largest party. The MPLA's share of the vote, 61%, was
smaller than in the last election, but the party still
retained a clear majority in Parliament. The leading
opposition party UNITA increased substantially to just over
26%, and the new opposition party Casa-CE emerged thanks to
The opposition accused the regime of irregularities in
the election and demanded that the result be annulled, which
was rejected by the Constitutional Court. According to
international observers, the choice was reasonably free and
MPLA's decline was linked to the country's economic
downturn due to falling oil export prices. In addition, dos
Santos and his regime were accused of enriching themselves
with oil revenues through corruption.
New President João Lourenço promised to rebuild the
economy and fight corruption. Despite being handpicked by
dos Santos as MPLA's presidential candidate, Lourenço
quickly sought to diminish power within the former
president's circle, even though dos Santos remained as MPLA
party leader. The vice president was replaced, and in
November, Lourenço surprisingly dismissed Isabel dos Santos
from the post of president of the state oil company
Sonangol. She had been appointed by her father, the former
president, and was now replaced by the veteran in the oil
industry who she had previously dismissed.
The oil accounts for about one third of Angola's GDP and
over 95% of exports. But Angola was in recession after the
fall in oil prices, unemployment was at least 25%, the
country had a shortage of foreign currency and inflation was
Before the parliamentary elections, protests against the
regime in the capital Luanda and several cities occurred.
Several opposition activists were sentenced during the year
to shorter prison sentences and were fined since
participating in demonstrations demanding fair elections.
In eastern Angola, activists demanded independence for
the Lunda Chokwe region. At a June demonstration, police
opened fire and killed one participant and injured 13
others. Nearly 80 people were arrested.
Eight men were sentenced in March to prison for between
four and ten years accused of leading an attempt to
overthrow President dos Santos. The participants in the coup
attempt would have been former members of the UNITA
guerrilla. UNITA denied involvement.