Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Angola constitution coming soon

Press reports indicate that Angola’s parliament will adopt a new constitution in the new week, extending the rule of President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who has served since 1979. The constitution will replace the formally semi-presidential structure with a pure presidential system, replacing the prime minister with a vice president. It is seen as strengthening the presidency. The timetable for adoption of the constitution was hastened in response to last week’s attack on the Togolese football team in Cabinda.

Cabinda is a non-contiguous enclave rich in oil. A separatist movement has been fighting for independence for several decades, and violence has continued even after the broader Angolan civil war ended in 2002. One can thus see constitutional conflict as underpinning the attack on the football players–like other acts of terrorism, this attack will call attention to the situation there. The immediate result, however, appears to be a strengthening of the authoritarian hand that guides Angola.


2 responses to “Angola constitution coming soon”

  1. Ran Hirschl Avatar

    An interesting post! Thanks, Tom. From what I gather, there was a 2006 agreement between the central government and most of the Cabinda separatists to end the violence and begin talks. This deal was endorsed by the US, the EU and many African countries. So it is not clear how representative is the splinter group that continues the fight and staged the attack on Togo’s national football team. During the Angolan civil war years Cabinda attracted some less than noble international “stakeholders” drawn to its rich oil potential, diamonds, and other precious minerals. It is also worth mentioning that while the democratic credentials of the Angolan regime are questionable, spooky weapon deals abound, and so on, Angola is one of the most economically prosperous countries in sub-Saharan Africa with hotels and restaurants in Luanda charging fully “European” rates for their services. This recovery is near miraculous given that the vicious civil war in Angola ended merely 8 years ago.

  2. Marina Costa Lobo Avatar

    Dear Tom,
    I doubt that you can call the new Angola Constitution a pure presidential system. In it the President is not directly elected, but is instead the leader of the party who wins the legislative elections. So the separate origin of executive and legislative powers which is normally characteristic of a pure presidential system is not preserved.
    On the other hand, it is not a parliamentary system either, for although the President emerges from the legislature, he does not depend on it for his survival. Ie, in the new angolan constitution, there will be no possibility to table a motion of censure to the President/government. For more information please see the constitutional committee page (in Portuguese)
    Marina Costa Lobo

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