Angola ruling party backs President Joao Lourenco for second term

MPLA leader, who succeeded Jose Eduardo dos Santos as president in 2017, will contest next year’s poll.

Angola's President Joao Lourenço
Lourenco's party has been in power since Angola achieved independence from Portugal in 1975 [Vincent Kessler/Reuters]

Angola’s governing party, which has held power for nearly half a century, has selected incumbent President Joao Lourenco as their candidate in next year’s election.

Members of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) on Friday overwhelmingly re-elected Lourenco as party leader at a congress held in the capital, Luanda.

It came just days after the main opposition party, UNITA, re-elected Adalberto Costa Junior as its leader, positioning him as the president’s main electoral rival.

The presidential polls are due to be held on August 22. Under Angola’s electoral system, the leader of the party with the majority of votes takes the top job.

The MPLA has been running the country since independence from Portugal in 1975.

Lourenco, 67, succeeded Jose Eduardo dos Santos as president in 2017.

He had served as defence minister under dos Santos who wielded absolute power over the country for 38 years.

Angola is rich in natural resources. The country is Africa’s third-biggest oil producer but many of its 33 million people live in poverty.

Dos Santos is accused of appointing family and friends to key positions during his marathon rule, leaving the country with a legacy of both poverty and nepotism.

Lourenco has pledged to restore Angola’s oil-dependent economy and fight corruption, leading a purge of his predecessor’s administration focused mainly on the former first family.

The dos Santos children have accused Lourenco of a political “witch hunt”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies