Washington-based policy-makers on Capitol Hill and non-governmental groups alike are closely monitoring the prosecution of Angolan anti-corruption activist Rafael Marques, VOA reports.
“Rafael was prosecuted in the past and imprisoned in 1999 following an article in which he criticized the government,” said Dave Peterson, the National Endowment for Democracy’s Africa director, who expressed concern about the Angolan Public Ministry’s lawsuit against Marques.
The NED “is in contact with Rafael, with his friends in Angola and here in the United States, with his lawyers, with the American Embassy, Senator (Ben) Cardin and others in Congress who are following the case,” he said.
The Angolan government’s action was “retaliation” following the 2017 Democracy Award received by Marques, and several other anti-corruption activists, on June 7, Peterson added. Angola’s Attorney General has filed a complaint against the journalist following a November 2016 report published on the Maka Angola portal, entitled “Prosecutor General of the Republic involved in corruption.”
“Corruption is a huge problem” in Angola, but the political opposition “does not have much space, there is a lot of persecution and a huge deficit of freedom,” Peterson added, where “corruption is a huge problem.”
Angola’s ruling elites are no more or less corrupt than their Western counterparts, according to H.E. Antonio Luvualu de Carvalho, the regime’s Roaming Ambassador. When presented with compelling evidence of endemic nepotism and corruption by Marques, Carvalho countered by citing the decision by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s appointment of his son Jean to a lucrative sinecure.
However, it was pointed that Carvalho failed to mention that the Sarkozy appointment was revoked after questions were raised in the media and the French Assembly, and legal action threatened. In effect, far from justifying nepotism, Carvalho’s Sarkozy example only emphasized the importance of independent media, a freely-elected parliament and genuine rule of law, precisely the democratic institutions and separation of powers that Marques had called for.