In December, the new president relieved
Attorney-General João Maria de Sousa
of his duties, a job he had held for a decade. João Maria de Sousa is no stranger
to the media fraternity, having been the
focus of a number of investigative pieces
by activist and journalist Rafael Marques
that resulted in a number of long-running court battles. The latest of these is
still running its course, a case in which
Rafael Marques and Mariano Brás are
accused of crimen injuria against a public authority and insulting an institution
of sovereignty. Journalist Eduardo Gito
began a campaign for the immediate absolution of the two co-accused. Also in
December, João Lourenço restructured
the boards of a number of public enterprises in other sectors.
Lourenço has taken other steps towards
reform, including granting a temporary
amnesty to rich Angolans willing to repatriate their fortunes from abroad. He
threatened to take legal action against
those who won’t comply. Nobody
knows exactly how much money the
elite is hiding outside the country, but
Angolan economists have estimated the
amount of money outside the country
at $28 billion, which amounts to more
than the country’s international reserves.
All in all, there is plenty of evidence to
suggest that Angola can look forward to
positive change, especially in terms of
media freedom and freedom of expression. As a case in point, in November,
Luaty Beirão, the activist who in 2015
was arrested and sentenced to jail together with 14 others in Luanda after
organising a reading of an adaptation of
American academic Gene Sharp’s 1993
book From Dictatorship to Democracy:
A Conceptual Framework for Liberation
launched a book recounting his ordeal
in prison. In an interview, Beirão said
that one could “see more freedom”. The


So This is Democracy? 2017

book launch was held at a hotel in Luanda and went off without any hitch.

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