Joao Lourenco was elected to take over from longtime sit-tight leader President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in 2017. This was after a peaceful election.
Joao Lourenco was inaugurated as the country’s first new president since 1979 on 26 September 2017. He ran as the candidate for the ruling MPLA for whom he was considered to be a loyal party soldier.
Here is the vote share and the makeup of Parliament according to the released results;
- MPLA 61.07% – 150 MPs
- Unita 26.67% – 51 MPs
- Casa-CE 9.44% – 16 MPs
Joao Lourenco Campaign Promises
At the time of his presidential campaign, Joao Lourenco swore to be the President of everybody and clean off the mess of his predecessor who remains the head of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party. He also promised to stop corruption and mismanagement of fund.
However, the fact that he was seen as loyal to MPLA raised doubts that there would be much difference in Angola despite the change of leadership.
Lourenco in a bid to surprise doubters that his predecessor Dos Santos doesn’t have much control over him has been rooting out his key allies.
Lately, he sacked those at the helm of leadership in some public utilities including oil, the diamond industry, the media and central bank. This action affected Dos Santos daughter, Isabel Dos Santos, African’s richest woman who was serving as the head of the state oil company. She was replaced by ex-Secretary of State for oil, Carlos Saturnino whom she had sacked while in power.
The removal of the princess from her throne (the country’s major source of revenue) reduced her net worth but didn’t dethrone her as the richest woman in the continent according to 2018 Forbes list of African richest billionaires.
As if Angola’s new president hasn’t proved that enough, he also dismissed the son of the former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos as the head of Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund after investigations were run on the governance and performance of the fund.
This goes to show that ex-president Dos Santos and his family may still hold a lot of influence which isn’t surprising considering that he ruled for over 38 years but they may no longer be untouchable as long as Joao Lourenco rules.
Everything You Should Know About Angola’s New President, Joao Lourenco
- Joao Lourenco was born in 1954 in the port town of Lobito. He joined the Marxist MPLA, one of three liberation movements that seized power in the capital, Luanda, and waged a bloody war against the rebel movements UNITA and FNLA. In August 1974, he was part of the first group of MPLA soldiers to enter Angolan territory via Miconge, towards the city of Cabinda after the fall of the Portuguese colonial regime.
- Lourenco comes from a modest background: his father is a medical worker, his mother a seamstress.
- Joao Lourenço studied at the Industrial Institute of Luanda and later participated in the liberation struggle in Ponta Negra. The MPLA’s war against the rebels became young Lourenco’s first professional area of work.
- Lourenco was the First Vice-President of the National Assembly from 2003 to 2014. He was the country’s Defense minister from April 2014 and he was designated as Vice-President of the MPLA in August 2016.
- In 2003, he almost killed his political career when he put himself forward as a possible successor in the country’s highest political office as dos Santos began openly thinking about stepping down but dos Santos actually had no such plans of stepping down. Dos Santos had simply wanted to find out whether there were opponents with ambitions of power within the MPLA.
- After that, it took 10 years for Joao Lourenco to recover from the faux pas. In December 2016, however, he got back into the fold. Following a proposal by party chairman dos Santos, the central committee of the ruling party decided to place Lourenco as No. 1 on its ticket for the August 2017 poll, making him the party’s presidential candidate.
- In the course of his campaign, Lourenco denounced his political opponents as “crooks” and announced that a major fight against corruption in Angola would begin if he won. He declared that the country needs transparency and stability and added that the only way to promote the new objectives of the MPLA government was to diversify the Angolan economy and attract foreign investors.
- Joao Lourenco is married to Ana Afonso Dias Lourenço, a Member of Parliament of the MPLA and former Minister of Planning, who held a position at the World Bank in Washington until October 2016. They have six children.