Angola kicked off a public debate on Wednesday about a new Constitution that is likely to continue President JosÃ© Eduardo dos Santos’s grip on power and delay elections until 2012, a senior government official said.
The ruling MPLA party presented a draft charter that keeps the president as the head of government and commander in chief, as is currently the case. Its proposal, one of three, is called the presidentialist-parliamentary government system.
The MPLA, which holds more than a two-thirds majority in Parliament, also wants to hold both legislative and presidential elections under one single poll, a move likely to delay presidential elections scheduled for this year until 2012.
According to a senior MPLA member, who asked to remain anonymous, the single election could prompt the MPLA to delay voting until 2012 so as not to interrupt the current Parliament’s mandate, which ends that year.
”There are several options regarding the date of the presidential election on the table,” the senior MPLA member said.
”One of those options is to hold presidential elections only after the current Parliament’s mandate ends in 2012,” he said.
Dos Santos, in power for 30 years, has repeatedly delayed presidential elections since the end of Angola’s three-decade long war. The 67-year-old ruler said he would announce the date of a poll after a new constitution is approved by Parliament.
Parliament is expected to approve a new Constitution in March 2010.
Branded as the ”kid” when he came to power at the age of 37, Dos Santos is now one of the continent’s longest serving leaders.
Angolans simply refer to Dos Santos as ”the boss” because of the huge sway he and his inner circle have over Angola’s economy and politics.
Under the current Constitution, the president and Parliament are elected by popular vote in two separate elections. Last year, Angola held its first parliamentary poll since the end of a civil war in 2002. The MPLA won more than 82% of the vote in that poll.
Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer and is the world’s fifth biggest diamond exporter. — Reuters