Angola’s president ‘lays down law’: Portugal “not particularly alarmed”

Angolan president João Lourenço is ‘laying down the law’: his country is not prepared to cooperate with Portugal until the case against former president Manuel Vicente has been concluded to Angola’s satisfaction.

In simple terms: Angola wants Portugal to allow it to decide the validity or not of Vicente’s charges in Operation Fizz, the long-running investigation that centres on suspicions that Vicente tried to buy his way out of corruption investigations by bribing a public official (click here).

As Lourenço has stressed, it is not that Angola wants to see the case against Vicente archived, rather than it wants to see its fellow countryman tried by a court in Angola.

And the fact that Portugal doesn’t think this will see justice served is “offensive”.

But while the issue looks deadly serious – Lourenço has dropped hints that it could affect visas in the future – Expresso explains today that his posture is being seen here as having a “symbolic dimension”.

“It is a relative problem”, said a source for the government.

In practice the Portuguese government’s “understanding” is that there may not be visits of the Angolan president to Portugal, nor of the (Portuguese) prime minister to Angola, but “meetings in other places, as well as visits by other personalities, will not be at risk, nor will economic or other relations”, explains Expresso.

Meantime, justice minister Francisca Van Dunem has reiterated that this is not a situation in which the government can intervene, anyway.

Stressing the importance of “the separation of powers”, she said Vicente’s problems are part of a “judicial dossier” and it is in the judicial space that they have to be dealt with.

Expresso adds that Lourenço has his hands full of so many other problems, not least the extricating of the country’s public business from the influence of former president Eduardo dos Santos’ various children.

In this regard the new president celebrating his first 100 days at the helm of power in Angola is “now reviewing the contract for the construction of the Port of Luanda… awarded without public tender to the firm Atlantic Ventures, owned by (dos Santos’ daughter) Isabel”, says the paper, adding that both Isabel and her sister Tchizé have been “removed from the management of public companies” while brother José is also in line for the same treatment.

Lourenço has said that this is by no means a form of “persecution of the former president’s children” rather than an attempt to “correct what has damaged transparency”.

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