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FACTBOX-Political risks to watch in Angola
January 10, 2013 / 3:27 PM / 5 years ago

FACTBOX-Political risks to watch in Angola

Jan 10 (Reuters) - Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his MPLA party scored a landslide win in an election in August to secure a new five-year term and extend the leader’s 33-year rule in Africa’s No. 2 oil-producing state.

The MPLA won 72 percent of the vote but the poll was criticised as not credible by opponents and civil society activists.

Speculation about Dos Santos’ future is rife. The swearing in of Manuel Vicente, former head of state oil firm Sonangol, as vice-president was seen as a sign he is being groomed as successor.

The economy returned to strong growth in 2012 after technical problems in oil output led to disappointment in 2011 and the government expects GDP to rise 7.1 percent this year.

Analysts will also be tracking delivery of pledges to tackle corruption and improve access to jobs and basic public services.

DOS SANTOS SUCCESSION PLANS

Dos Santos’ promotion of Vicente to vice-president fuels speculation that the president is looking to hand over power.

Vicente is respected for his leadership at Sonangol, but analysts say he is a newcomer to politics and has yet to persuade senior MPLA figures and many ordinary Angolans that he is the best choice to succeed Dos Santos.

What to watch:

- Tasks given to Vicente, comments by Dos Santos on plans

CLAMOUR FOR BETTER WEALTH DISTRIBUTION

The MPLA has pledged to ensure a better distribution of Angola’s riches. Election campaigns focussed on an anti-poverty drive and equal access to jobs, energy, water and education.

The government says it has earmarked a third of its spending for this year for education, health and welfare services.

What to watch:

- Government implementation of distribution policies

GROWING DISSENT

A persistent youth movement is urging Dos Santos to resign and a group of veterans of Angola’s 27-year civil war are demanding payment of overdue pensions, showing rising dissent.

The election, only the third since independence from Portugal in 1975, took place peacefully. But analysts say a 10-percentage-point drop in MPLA support and abstention of almost 40 percent of Angolans may signal dissatisfaction with policies.

What to watch:

- Plans for more demonstrations and government reaction

CORRUPTION

Dos Santos’s government has long been accused of mismanaging oil revenues, avoiding public scrutiny and doing too little to fight graft. Transparency International ranks Angola among the most corrupt countries in the world.

The appointment of Jose Filomeno dos Santos, one of the president’s sons, to the board of a new $5 billion sovereign wealth fund in October attracted fresh criticism.

What to watch:

- Sovereign wealth fund’s first investments, reporting

ECONOMIC GROWTH, DIVERSIFICATION

Increased oil output helped the economy grow between 8 and 10 percent last year and is expected to lead to an expansion of 7.1 percent this year if operators can avoid a repeat of the technical problems seen in 2011.

Economists say a key test for the government in its new mandate is to diversify the economy by investing in sectors such as agriculture and mining to reduce dependence on oil revenues.

What to watch:

- Oil output growth, support for non-oil sectors (Editing by Louise Ireland)

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