The announcement by Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos 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, notes Soren Kirk Jensen, an Associate Fellow with Chatham House’s Africa Program:
But is it a mirage? President dos Santos has signaled 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. There are, however, strong indications – including his advancing age and recent political positioning − that he will hand over power.
Being a writer determined to tell the truth in Angola is no walk in the park as the authorities have ways of dealing with such voices, notes Rafael Marques de Morais (above – a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy). The imperative is that those of goodwill and strength of character do what the government fears the most as they endeavor to conquer the space for freedom of expression for all citizens, he writes. RTWT
“The president’s announcement is also significant because it could indicate that Angola is shifting to the southern Africa path of liberationist dominant parties that debate and choose their presidents, rather than the central African path where many presidents seek dynastic succession, change term limits and seek to rule indefinitely,” Jensen adds. RTWT