President Lourenço sworn in as Angolan president

SANF 22 no 35 – by Clarkson Mambo

“Angolans have demonstrated to the world that at crucial moments, they know how to make the best choices and choose the future of their country with great responsibility.”

The newly re-elected President of Angola, João Lourenço said this on 15 September during his inauguration ceremony where he also extended an olive branch to the opposition and called for peace and national unity.

He said that by electing him and his party – the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) – Angolans had chosen “continuity” and were guaranteed “stability”.

In fact, in his campaign message, President Lourenço had urged all Angolans to “honour the memory” of the late President José dos Santos, who died on 8 July, by voting for the MPLA as the party is celebrated for nurturing the success of Angola since independence.

“By electing the MPLA and its candidate, Angolans were betting on continuity as a sure way of guaranteeing peace, stability and the economic and social development of the country,” President Lourenço told supporters and foreign dignitaries that attended his inauguration at the historic Praca da Republica Square in Luanda.

President Lourenço said as leader of the country he will ensure all Angolans despite their political affiliations benefit from various socio-economic activities, programmes and projects initiated by the government.

“I pledge to be the President of all Angolans and to govern for the economic and social development of the country and the well-being of all Angolans.

“I shall devote all my strength and attention to the search for the best solutions to the country’s main problems,” he said, stressing that special attention will be paid to the social services sector.

Another priority for his second term will be the need to diversify the economy to reduce its reliance on oil, as well as create more employment opportunities for the youth, and improve wages and service delivery in sectors such as housing, education, health and sanitation.

Ending corruption and promoting private sector participation in economic and infrastructure development are also critical to ensure the country attains sustainable development.

President Lourenço and his MPLA party won the 24 August general elections by 51.17 percent of the total votes cast.

This was against the 43.95 percent votes for the main opposition party, the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) led by Adalberto Costa Júnior.

In terms of parliamentary seats, the MPLA won 124 National Assembly seats out of the 220 contested for, while UNITA got 90, with the remaining six seats, split equally among three smaller parties.

Angola uses an electoral system of Proportional Representation for the election of Members of Parliament.

The leader of the party winning the most votes in the parliamentary election automatically takes the Presidency.

Before the Constitution was changed in 2010, the President was directly elected.

UNITA had disputed the election results, but the challenge was dismissed by Angola’s Constitutional Court on 8 September, paving the way for President Lourenço’s inauguration, following one of the most tightly contested elections since the country gained its independence from Portugal in 1975.

In the last election held in 2017, the MPLA won 150 seats in Parliament, while UNITA got 51, and the CASA- CE coalition secured the remaining 16 seats.

The 24 August general elections were the fifth multi-party polls following those held in 1992, 2008, 2012 and 2017, and marked 20 years since the end of the civil war in 2002.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observation Mission (SEOM) which was one of the many regional and international organisations that observed the polls, described the election as having been held in line with regional and international standards.

And various leaders from the region including the SADC Chair, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Organ Chair, Hage Geingob of Namibia attended the inauguration of President Lourenço.

Born in 1954, President Lourenço was first elected in 2017, taking over from the late President José dos Santos, who had served since 1979 following the death of the founding President, Dr Agostinho Neto.

Prior to this, he held various senior positions including Defence Minister.

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