Johannesburg – Angola’s government should guarantee that protesters angry over the high cost of living and demanding electoral reforms are allowed to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, rights group Amnesty has said.
Protesters were set to march in the capital Luanda on Wednesday, demanding that President João Lourenço’s government set out concrete plans to ensure decent living conditions for Angolans. They are also pressing for the revision of electoral laws and a reform of the National Commission of Elections to guarantee free and fair polls.
In a statement late on Tuesday, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said peaceful marches were protected by the Angolan constitution and international treaties ratified by the country.
“Past peaceful protests in Angola have been met with appalling brutality by the police, with demonstrators assaulted and arrested for no other reason than demanding accountability from the authorities. Amnesty will be monitoring the situation closely, and documenting any human rights violations. Staging a protest is not a crime,” Mwananyanda said.
“Angolan authorities must allow and facilitate this protest to go ahead, and ensure people’s legitimate demands for accountability and reform are not met with violence or reprisals.”
Two weeks ago, media freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists urged Angolan police to stop arresting and assaulting journalists after at least six reporters and a media worker were arrested while covering anti-government protests by civil society groups and opposition parties in Luanda.
According to EXX Africa, a specialist intelligence firm providing analysis and forecasts on political, security, and economic risk across the continent, two out of three Angolans are deeply dissatisfied with their government and pessimistic about the country’s outlook.
It said this had triggered anti-government protests since August which had often been brutally curbed by Angolan security forces.
EXX Africa’s survey, conducted in October, pointed to a shift in support from the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola party over the past three years and a deterioration of the political mood ahead of 2022 elections.
Lourenço has been president since September 2017, succeeding José Eduardo dos Santos who had been in power in the southern African country for 38 years.
– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa