Category Archives: Angola

Angola – New Constitution: no longer semi-presidential

After a period of constitutional reflection (see previous posts), Angola has adopted its new constitution. Yesterday, the National Assembly approved the final articles. All that now remains is for President dos Santos to sign the document into law. There is a link to the document (in Portuguese) here.

The new constitution is not semi-presidential. Similar to the situation in South Africa and Botswana, Art. 109 states that the president is the person who heads the list of the party that wins the most votes in the general election. In addition, there is no longer any mention of a prime minister and the government is responsible only to the president. The president’s constitutional powers have also been reinforced.

The opposition Unita party boycotted the votes in the National Assembly claiming that the constitution gave too much power to the president.

I will no longer post on Angola except in the highly unlikely circumstances that there is a debate about the restoration of semi-presidentialism.

Angola – New constitution: three choices

In Angola the constitution-making process is moving forward. The Constitutional Commission of the National Assembly has arrived at three constitutional choices between which the people of Angola must choose. Specifically, there is now a period of popular reflection, then there will be a final choice by the Assembly, and then there will be a referendum.

The three choices are labelled A, B and C: A is the presidential choice; B is the semi-presidential choice; C is being called ‘presidentialist-parliamentary’ choice (though Matthew Shugart should sue for libel!).

The parliamentary website has lots of information (in Portuguese) as well as a diagram that tries to sum up the difference between the three choices. Here it is:

Basically, proposal A is a classic presidential system. Proposal B is a classic semi-presidential system, though (interestingly) it is being portrayed as a system in which the president has relatively few powers. (This is the reason why this option will not be chosen! At least, that is my cynical reading of the situation). As reported in a previous post, Proposal C is like the Guyanan system, whereby there is a single election and where the presidential candidates are the heads of the party lists. So, the party that wins the most votes wins the presidency.

My understanding is that the likely outcomes is between Proposals A and C.

Angola – New method of electing the president proposed

In Angola the constitution-making process is continuing and it is looking increasingly likely that semi-presidentialism will be abandoned.

Angop reports that in August President José Eduardo dos Santos expressed his preference for electing the president by way of the parliamentary election. He seems to favour the system that operates in Guyana whereby the leader of the party list that gains the most votes at the parliamentary election is elected as president. The report also states that the president would then have to be ratified by parliament.

In a previous post, I ruminated on whether this system was sufficient to classify Guyana as semi-presidential and concluded that, in my opinion, it was not.

In another report from Angop, more details about the constitutional reform process were outlined. As reported in a previous post the National Assembly has established a Constitutional Commission. The Commission will draw up three texts. It then seems that in November and December there will be debates in parliament. Then, from 5 January to 20 February 2010 there will be a period of public consultation “involving socio-professional associations, relevant entities, traditional authorities, non-governmental organisations, representatives of churches, students and other organs of the civil society”. In February and March 2010 the Constitutional Commission will reassess the situation and draw up a text for final deliberation in the Assembly. A referendum cannot be ruled out.

Given the proposed way of electing the president has the backing of dos Santos, who has just celebrated 30 years in power, then it is unlikely that a different system will be included, unless the president changes his mind. That said, in the meeting with Jacob Zuma at which he outlined his idea, dos Santos also referred to this system as one of direct election. This is questionable. However, this means that he could revert to the standard method of direct election and still say that he was being consistent. Anyway, further updates will no doubt follow.

Angola – New constitution to be debated

The information is sketchy, but Angola is beginning a process of reflection that is due to lead to a new constitution.

On 28 November 2008 President dos Santos declared that there should be a new constitution prior to the next presidential election, which is due this year or next year. He stated: “There are people who defend that the president should be elected by the parliament, that is through an indirect vote, and others say that citizens should elect directly the president of the Republic, through the universal direct vote. The Constitution will define the best way to choose and then we will all be in condition to elaborate the schedule for the presidential election”.

In December the speaker of the National Assembly, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, announced the creation of a constitutional commission comprising MPs of parties with representation in parliament. In January the parliamentary leader of the MPLA was named as the chair of the commission, whose composition was fixed as follows: 35 from the MPLA, six from UNITA, two from PRS and one from FNLA and New Democracy (ND). In February, a smaller ‘technical team’ was nominated to consider proposals in depth.

Last month, the head of the technical group stated that the nature of the regime was still an open question and that the issue of whether there would be a presidential or a semi-presidential regime had not been decided.

All four opposition groups have now submitted their draft proposals to the Commission. Crucially, the ruling MPLA party has also now submitted its draft constitution.

Details are difficult to follow, but the various groups have different proposals regarding the direct election of the president and the role of the PM, indeed whether or not there should even by a PM. The MPLA, which is clearly the crucial player, is quoted as wanting a “presidentialist system”. According to jeuneafrique, the option whereby the PM would be replaced by a vice-president named by the president is the most likely outcome. This would seem to be consistent with the MPLA’s proposal.

On 9 June the discussion of the drafts began. I will report back when more information becomes available.

Angola – New PM

Since 30 September, Angola has a new prime minister, António Paulo Kassoma. The former prime minister, Fernando Dias dos Santos, became president of the Assembly.

The change follows the recent legislative election. I admit to knowing absolutely nothing about why Prime Minister Kassoma was appointed, apart from the fact that he was ‘chosen’ by the Politburo of the MPLA and that his nomination was ratified, in effect, by the president. This is in total conformity with the Constitution, but obviously it masks the political reasons that guided the party to choose Kassoma.

Given the MPLA won over 86% of the vote at the election, all else equal, one might feel a little sorry for ex-Prime Minister dos Santos. All things considered, it wasn’t a bad result!

Angola – Election, provisional results

Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), 81.73

União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA), 10.38

Partido de Renovação Social (PRS), 3.1

Nova Democracia (ND), 1.2

Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA), 1.13

Partido Democrático para Progreso – Aliança Nacional Angolano (PDP-ANA), 0.51

Partido Liberal Democrático de Angola (PLD), 0.33

Angola Democrática – Coligação (AD-Coligação), 0.30

Partido de Apoio Democrático e Progresso de Angola (PADEPA), 0.26

Frente para a Democracia (FPD), 0.26

Partido da Aliança da Juventude, Operários e Camponeses de Angola (PAJOCA), 0.24

Partido Renovador Democrático (PRD), 0.21

Fórum Fraternal Angolano Coligação (FOFAC), 0.18

Plataforma Política Eleitoral, 0.18

Total, 100.00

Total votos 5,603,856
Votos brancos 227,592, 4.06%
Votos nulos 273,224, 4.88%
Votos reclamados 67,589, 1.21%
Votos válidos 5,045,451, 90,04%

Source: CNE – Comissão Nacional Eleitoral, 8 September 19.00 local time.

Upcoming election – Angola

There is a parliamentary election in Angola on Friday. I did a preliminary post about it a little while ago when the election date was announced.

Wikipedia reports that 10 parties and four coalitions are contesting the election. The ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Party of Labour (MPLA), is in a very strong position. President José Eduardo dos Santos has claimed that he wants the electoral process to be exemplary. However, there have been claims from the opposition that the process has not been free and fair.

There is a very useful working paper on the opposition parties in Angola and the general political situation, including information about the constitutional situation. It is on the website of the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), an independent research centre on international development and policy.

I will post the election results at the weekend or when they are finalised.

Angola – elections promised

Election Guide reports that the Angolan President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has officially stated that parliamentary elections will take place later this year. They will probably take place in September. Presidential elections are likely to take place in 2009.

There has been no election in Angola since 1992, the year when the country’s semi-presidential constitution was adopted. Indeed, the elections that year did not take place fully. Only the first round of voting occurred. The second round was cancelled because of violence.

Despite the absence of any electoral democracy, Angola’s freedom rating has risen in recent years following the end of the long-running civil war in 2002. Freedom House has increased its rating from 6 to 5.5 (if you see what I mean). Polity 4 has increased it from -3 to -2. In both cases, Angola is still classed as an autocracy, but clearly free and fair elections would increase its rating further.