With a year to go until Angola holds general elections, the country’s head of state is in a tight spot. At the helm of a crisis-plagued country and a divided ruling party, will President João Lourenço be able to keep the situation from spinning out of control?
This is part 1 of a 6-part series.
It was a transition rather than a transfer of power, as both men belong to the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), the party that has governed the nation since 1975.
While Lourenço may be a pure product of the system, he was nevertheless quick to promise that he would turn the page on past missteps and put an end to governance plagued by corruption, nepotism and impunity.
A tall order
Ties with the former first family were abruptly severed. José Eduardo dos Santos, his eldest daughter Isabel (who ranked as Africa’s top female billionaire in 2013 according to Forbes) and his second daughter, Tchizé, currently live abroad.
The ex-president’s first-born son, José Filomeno, stayed behind in Luanda, where an Angolan court sentenced him to five years in prison.
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Meanwhile, problems have piled up for President Lourenço, who has had to contend with a major economic crisis – fuelled by the fall in oil prices and the Covid-19 pandemic – while facing silent, but very real challenges to his leadership, even from within his own party.
Will Lourenço’s gamble pay off and allow him to deliver an “economic miracle” for Angola? Will he be able to make something new out of the old? And how can he make a real difference when the past weighs so heavily on society and mindsets? This five-part series attempts to answer these questions.
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