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21 Sep 2009 15:52
Angola’s President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos marked 30 years in power on Monday, with no public celebrations or even a murmur in state media about the milestone reached by Africa’s second-longest serving leader.
State-owned daily Jornal de Angola, which most days carries a picture of the 67-year-old leader on its front page, made no reference to the anniversary and no official events appeared on the public diary.
Dos Santos’s three decades at the helm of the oil-rich nation came four days after an annual public holiday celebrating his predecessor, Angola’s first president Agostinho Neto, which included parties and educational seminars.
“Today’s lack of celebration is deliberate so as not to draw attention to how long Dos Santos has been in power,” independent journalist and Angolan commentator Rafael Marques told Agence France-Presse.
“If there was a big celebration, it would be an opportunity for the independent media to criticise the president.”
Opposition parties and rights groups claim Dos Santos is clinging to power by deliberately delaying presidential elections.
A presidential poll—the first since 1992 and only the second to take place since independence from Portugal 34 years ago—had been put off this year until a new Constitution outlining the electoral system is adopted.
“If the 30 years had come last year, just after the MPLA won the election and the party was on a high, I think it would have been different, but it is not the right climate now,” said Marques.
The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) won 81% of the vote in the 2008 parliamentary election, the first to be held in Angola in 16 years.
The election came as Angola was enjoying an economic boom thanks to high oil prices but the country, which relies on oil for 90% of its income, has seen its reserves plunge because of lower oil prices and public spending has been cut as a result.
Dos Santos is now Africa’s second-longest serving lead after Moammar Gadaffi of Libya, following the death of Gabonese leader Omar Bongo in June.—AFP
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