cautious and pragmatic

Angola: João Lourenço puts his stamp on Luanda’s diplomacy

in depth

This article is part of the dossier:

João Lourenço’s Angola

By Daniel Ribant

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Posted on May 21, 2021 18:13

Screenshot 2021-05-21 at 2.08.41 AM Félix Tshisekedi in Luanda on 16 November 2020 to meet João Lourenço. © Republic of Angola
Félix Tshisekedi in Luanda on 16 November 2020 to meet João Lourenço. © Republic of Angola

Angola’s president has initiated a rebalancing of relations with China to the benefit of Europe and the United States, while maintaining the country’s regional influence.

This is part six of a 6-part series.

It is no easy task to take over the reins after José Eduardo dos Santos’s presidency, given the ex-leader’s foreign-policy chops. He spent no less than half a century learning about the who’s who and inner workings of diplomacy, serving as foreign minister of the then newly formed republic of Angola and from 1979 to 2017, as its president. Calm and reserved, Dos Santos travelled little, but his political acumen and grasp of the issues worked wonders during the speeches that he gave.

While President João Lourenço has neither the experience nor the talent of his predecessor, he has a certain taste for – and a sound command of – matters of diplomacy, in addition to having a few high-level diplomats as advisers. Is he merely following Dos Santos’s playbook? The reality is not so simple.

If foreign policy is understood as an extension of domestic policy,

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