Angolans feel let down two years into new presidency

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Two years into his presidency, Angolan leader João Lourenço is treading a difficult course between continuity and radical reform.

Faced with a persistent economic crisis, the new president needs to take bold action to open up the economy to competition and renewed foreign investment, and reduce the country’s dependency on oil.These are competing networks of interests within the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola and the security forces that the previous president,, had carefully cultivated in his 38 years in power, by using the country’s vast oil revenues.

But to loosen that stranglehold, Lourenço relies on continued support from the MPLA, and so he cannot openly antagonise all these different interests at once but rather has to advance very cautiously. The initial euphoria that accompanied Lourenço’s new presidency has ebbed away. Angolans are faced with the stark realities of a profoundly dysfunctional political economy that has proved more resistant to change than they had hoped for.

Yet things started out so well. Lourenço entered the 2017 electoral contest as the MPLA’s lead candidate to succeed dos Santos. He campaignedSeen as a dos Santos loyalist and a man of continuity, he at first failed to ignite much enthusiasm. The MPLA won the elections with 61% of the vote – a result that was

 

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