A political analyst says Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos reneged on a promise to hold direct elections following parliament’s approval of a new constitution that allows a president to be chosen as the leader of the party with the most votes in parliament.
Andre Thomashausen, a professor at the University of South Africa said the ruling party with its overwhelming majority in parliament should have accommodated the concerns of the main opposition UNITA party before approving the new constitution.
“The fact that the opposition boycotted the vote says a lot because that is a very drastic thing to do for an opposition party to walk out. And it is a pity that the majority party, the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) although they have such a large majority, but they didn’t try and accommodate the concerns and the wishes of the opposition. So, the start for this is not very nice,” he said.
Angola’s media quoted Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, president of the parliament as hailing the new constitution, saying “This is a historic moment...(after) parliament adopted the new constitution of the Republic of Angola."
However, President Dos Santos and the Constitutional Court would have to approve the new constitution before it comes into effect.
Political observers say the new constitution will further consolidate more power in the hands of President Dos Santos.
Thomashausen said President Dos Santos and his ruling MPLA did not live up to their promise.
“In 2008, there was a firm promise that once a new parliament is constituted, once a new constitution has been passed then the president would finally put himself for direct election. The promise has now been breached because the president in future would simply be the first name appearing on the party list. And to understand that one must know that in Angola, you don’t elect individual representatives,” Thomashausen said.
The ruling MPLA won an overwhelming 82 percent of the 2008 vote giving a majority in Angola’s parliament.
President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been the leader of Angola since 1979.