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.

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