Angola’s president holds rally in Luanda days before country’s election

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Angola’s President João Lourenço said on Saturday that since he took over five years ago, his country is less corrupt and that he has succeeded in starting to sanitise the oil-producing nation’s image internationally.

Lourenço spoke at a rally for his MPLA party as he seeks re-election when the country goes to the polls on Thursday, 24 August.

Thousands gathered in the suburbs of the capital Luanda wearing red and waving flags to support Lourenço and his party which has governed Angola, one of Africa’s most unequal countries, since its independence from Portugal in 1975.

Lourenço was handpicked by his predecessor, the late José Eduardo dos Santos, when he stepped down in 2017 after ruling Angola for 38 years. He pledged to fight corruption and boost the economy following the 2014 oil price crash which resulted in an economic crisis in the country.

He investigated the corruption which had occurred during Dos Santos’ time in power, targeting the former leader’s children.

Corruption, Lourenço said, was “deeply rooted” not only in politics but across society as whole, but analysts have said the fight against corruption was a move aimed at trying to gain legitimacy and anger is brewing among the people of Angola due to government’s failure to convert vast oil wealth into better living conditions for all.

Long-time opposition party UNITA is stronger than ever raising fears of the potential for voter fraud.

In the rally’s front row, 42-year old public sector worker, Moises Almeida, said that he still believed a government led by the MPLA was the better option for the country.

“I’m no different from the majority of Angolans, so I hope that the MPLA wins this election. I hope the MPLA will be victorious because most Angolans know that with them in power we will have better things for the country. There might be some negative things, that is normal. It is not a perfect country, there are no perfect governments but the Angolan people are with the MPLA.”

Meanwhile another MPLA supporter at the rally, Pedro Tosquinho, said more investment was needed in agriculture, education and to improve the lives of young people, which represent more than half of the voters.