Massive rally in Angola demands president’s removal

In a rally held in Luanda on Saturday and organized by Angola’s largest opposition party to commemorate its late leader, thousands of individuals voiced their demand for President Joao Lourenco to resign.

UNITA, a former rebel group that transitioned into a political entity and experienced a contested election loss last year, has expressed its intention to start a parliamentary procedure aimed at ousting President Lourenco from his position.

The group, accusing the 69-year-old leader of displaying authoritarian tendencies, seeks his removal from office.

“Someone is responsible for famine, unemployment and the jailing of demonstrators. Who is he?” questioned UNITA leader Adalberto Costa Junior, addressing a gathering of supporters waving red and green flags, representing the party’s colors, in Luanda.

“Joao Lourenco!” came the reply.

The protest was arranged to commemorate the birthday of former UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, whose demise at the hands of the military in 2002 signified the conclusion of a 27-year civil war between UNITA and President Lourenco’s governing Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).

However, the demonstration was employed as a means to exert pressure on the government, capitalizing on widespread dissatisfaction due to issues such as poverty, corruption, and an unstable economy.

“UNITA is trying to capitalise on the widespread social discontent in society,” noted independent analyst Marisa Lourenco, clarifying that she is not related to the president.

Since the government removed petrol subsidies in June, the oil-rich country in southern Africa has witnessed a surge of protests.

The intention behind the decision was to rein in government expenditure, given the economic impact of declining oil prices which has also led to a depreciation of the local currency, the kwanza.

As outlined in Angola’s constitution, the president can be ousted from office if his actions are deemed to jeopardize democracy.

However, UNITA has not yet disclosed the timing for commencing the proceedings and has provided limited information regarding the exact allegations against Lourenco.

The opposition could be aiming to capitalize on internal divisions within the ruling party through a confidential vote, yet observers indicate that the endeavor is improbable to achieve success.

To remove the president, a parliamentary vote with a two-thirds majority and judicial endorsement are necessary. However, the MPLA, which has been in power since 1975, holds sway over both of these aspects, as mentioned by the analyst Lourenco.

The MPLA has dismissed UNITA’s efforts to remove the president as “unserious” and “undemocratic”.

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