As widely predicted, Angola’s elections of 23 August were won by the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) with approximately 64% of the votes. After being in power for 38 years, José Eduardo dos Santos stepped down in favour of his handpicked successor João Lourenço, former general and current defence minister. Seemingly, dos Santos’ undisclosed health problems have worsened considerably over the past year. Despite a voting swing of over 7% towards the opposition, the MPLA’s control over the media and ministry of territorial administration gives it extensive power over the electoral process. Even though the EU will criticise the election result, absence of independent observers will mute any condemnation.  

Impact on country risk

Incoming President Lourenço should help safeguard the dos Santos family’s assets and interests. Besides, dos Santos will remain head of the MPLA and will receive immunity and sizeable benefits during his retirement. Henceforth, his national powers will remain far-reaching, while his eldest son still runs Angola’s sovereign-wealth fund and his daughter the national oil company Sonangol. The start of the new president’s administration will be stained by Angola’s wretched economic conditions. Indeed, the country has been in crisis since oil prices plummeted, depleting the fiscal balance and creating significant dollar shortages. In 2016 the economy stagnated and inflation reached almost 42%, while it is expected to touch wood at 20% by the end of 2017. Recent elections have secured policy continuity in a difficult economic climate with opaque public finances and a lack of transparency.

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendo.com