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Angola - Government

The Angolan Government functions well enough to host the international private sector and functions well enough to have emerged the victor in the civil war. And yet malnutrition and infant mortality rates in Angola are shocking, and many of the Angola people have no access to basic services. News from Angola in recent years has often featured prominent examples of corruption and of sanctions busting activities, calling into question the state's regulatory capacity. The state is weak, but in its own distinct way.

Angola is governed by a president, vice president, and 90 appointed ministers, deputy ministers, and state secretaries. Political power is concentrated in the presidency. The executive branch of the government is composed of the president (head of state and government), the vice president, ministers of state, and the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers, composed of all government ministers and secretaries of state, meets regularly to discuss policy issues. The president, the Council of Ministers, and individual ministers in their areas of competence have the ability to legislate by decree.

Angola held legislative elections on September 5, 2008, its first since 1992. Due to technical difficulties on election day, voting was extended through September 6 in some constituencies. The results of the elections were accepted by UNITA and most other opposition parties. The MPLA won 81.6% of the electorate, giving it an absolute majority with 191 out of 220 seats in parliament. The remaining 29 parliamentary seats were won by UNITA (16), the Social Renewal Party (PRS) (8), National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) (3), and the New Democracy (ND) coalition (2). Of the 220 deputies seated in the National Assembly, 130 were elected at large, and 5 are elected to represent each of the 18 provinces. The electoral law also calls for the election of three additional deputies to represent citizens living abroad; however, those positions have not been filled.

Dos Santos has never been elected president - in 1992 the second round (of presidential elections) never took place, the 2008 election was only for parliament and he postponed the presidential ballot before abolishing it altogether in 2010.During an August 20, 2009 press conference with visiting South African President Jacob Zuma (Ref A), Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos declared that "we advocate an (presidential) election by universal direct suffrage in which the president is the head of a list, with the support of his party, in which the election can then be formalized by the National Assembly. But this is not a typical indirect election."

Angola enacted a new constitution on 05 February 2010 and on February 8, President dos Santos swore in a new government. The text of the draft document first became publicly available on January 18, as a supplement in the Jornal de Angola. Under the country's new 2010 constitution he could remain in power until 2022. Angola's new constitution abolished direct presidential elections, strengthening the role of the president in the country's government, politics and military.

The new constitution established a party list system under which citizens vote for a party (not an individual candidate) and the president will be the leader of the winning party’s list. Some key features of the text included a limit of two five-year terms for the President, and abolition of the Prime Minister and creation of a Vice President chosen by the President, without consent of the National Assembly, after his/her election. On 12 August 2010, the president of the National Assembly ordered the temporary suspension of the powers of the legislature to monitor the executive, until further notice. This decree suspended even the weak oversight powers that survived constitutional revision.

There are no local, municipal, or provincial elections in Angola and no clear timeline for such elections; the new constitution states only that such institutions should be established “gradually.” The country is divided into 18 provinces. Governors of the provinces are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the president. The government has embarked on a program of decentralization, and in August 2007 the Council of Ministers passed a resolution to grant some municipalities control of their own budgets; this measure was extended to all municipalities in 2008.

The legal system is based on Portuguese and customary law but is weak and fragmented. Courts operate in only a fraction of the 164 municipalities. A Supreme Court serves as the appellate tribunal; a constitutional court was established in May 2008. The new constitution concentrated power in the hands of the President by granting the President the right to appoint judgesjudges to the Constitutional and Supreme courts, as well as the Court of Audits, all without review or consent of the National Assembly.

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Page last modified: 22-08-2013 18:26:38 ZULU