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Angola: Calls for a Revolution

In the spirit of protest that has swept across North Africa and the Middle East, it appears that Angolan people have found some inspiration. After the revolt of the Tunisian people, who decided to join in mass to bring down now ex-President dictator Ben Ali, which was followed by the end of the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, and most recently, the current conflicts in Libya, some Angolans decided to convoke their own revolution.

"March 7 Protest against the Joseduardized dictatorship. Angola says Enough! 32 years of tyranny and bad governance." New poster of the Revolution of the Angolan people. Shared on Facebook by the movement of same name.

"March 7 Protest against the Joseduardized dictatorship. Angola says Enough! 32 years of tyranny and bad governance." New poster of the Revolution of the Angolan people. Shared on Facebook by the movement of same name.

As Global Voices reported, the protests are being organized by “Agostinho Jonas Roberto dos Santos” – pseudonym joining the names of personalities from contemporary Angolan history: Agostinho Neto, Jonas Savimbi, Holden Roberto and even President José Eduardo dos Santos himself.

According to an email that is circulating and that can be read on the official site of “Nova Revolução do Povo Angolano” (New Revolution of the Angolan People) [pt], the date for the revolution is the 7th of this month, in the well-known Independence Square in Luanda.

The petition [pt] created, criticizes among other things “extreme poverty in Angola, the culture of fear and intimidation, misery, and autocracy.” The objective is for popular action to put an end to the 32 year rule of Eduardo dos Santos.

On the blog Página Um (Page One) [pt] reads a direct appeal to protest:

Vamos marchar com cartazes exigindo a saída do Ze Du [nota da autora: diminutivo de José Eduardo dos Santos], não mais ditadura do MPLA. Liberdade e Progresso. Abaixo o regime do MPLA.

Let's march with posters calling for the end of Ze Du [Authors note: diminutive of José Eduardo], no more MPLA dictatorship. Liberty and Progress. Down with the MPLA regime.
José Eduardo dos Santos - Wanted dead or alive

José Eduardo dos Santos "Wanted dead or alive". Image from the Facebook page "Revoluçao do Povo Angolano".

The MPLA (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola) [Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola], is the party that has governed the country for more than thirty years. The current President, successor of Agostinho Neto, one of the symbols of the struggle for independence, has been in power since 1979.

In an interview [pt] with Terra Magazine the anonymous leader presents the motives for the protests:

Estamos cansados desta ditadura de quase 32 anos e queremos ser liderados por vários líderes em cada 5 ou 10 anos, o que acreditamos será uma verdadeira democracia, visto que o país será dirigido por diferentes pessoas com visões diferentes para o bem do povo angolano.

We are tired of this dictatorship of almost 32 years and we want to be led by various leaders each 5 or 10 years, which we believe will be a true democracy, given that the country is will be led by different people with different visions for the wellbeing of the Angolan people.

New forms of mobilization

Much of the mobilizing for revolution is by word of mouth, and in neighborhood debates, in cities across the country, claims its organizer “Agostinho Jonas Roberto dos Santos”, in the same interview with Terra Magazine.

However, new information and communication technologies have also played an important role. The author of the blog Morro da Maianga [pt] comments on the difficulties of using SMS services in recent days and asks if this initiative has arisen by someone who merely hopes to “test how in Angola a virtual system of mobilization works”:

Se de facto foi esta a sua intenção, a “operação 7 de Março” foi coroada de total êxito, pois a informação disseminou-se mesmo, ao ponto de se ter transformado num extraordinário facto político nacional, a provocar até reacções enérgicas de condenação da parte dos altos comandos das FAA [Forças Armadas de Angola].
De facto já há muito tempo que não via o MPLA “tãm nervioso”…

If in fact this is his/her intention “Operation March 7″ was crowned a total success, as the information has really been disseminated, to the point of being transformed into an extraordinary national political fact, provoking energetic reactions of condemnation on the part of the highest commend of the FFA [Armed Forces of Angola]. In fact it as been some time since the MPLA has been “so nervous”.

Orlando Castro, on his blog Alto Hama [pt], expects great adhesion by Angolans in the diaspora and further predicts:

Apesar da garantia de que as manifestações serão pacíficas, democráticas e legítimas, inspiradas no Movimento de «Não-Violência» e a favor de paz e estabilidade em Angola, é bem possível (já há, aliás, indícios nesse sentido) que o regime do MPLA procure impedir a sua realização.

In spite of the guarantee of peaceful, democratic and legitimate protests, inspired by the non-violent movement and in favor of peace and stability in Angola, it is quite possible (in fact there are already indications of this) that the regime of the MPLA will seek to prevent them.

Reactions and suspense

It is expected that the government will repress the Protest, if it does actually happen, through the use of violence.

The alarm [pt] has already been sounded by the president of the Parliamentary Group of MPLA, Virgílio de Fontes Pereira, who claims that

num Estado Democrático não devem ser tolerados comportamentos individuais ou colectivos, praticados por quem quer que seja, que atentam contra a ordem constitucional e ponham em risco a estabilidade do mandato e do funcionamento dos órgãos legitimados para exercer os poderes Legislativo, Judicial e Executivo.

In a Democratic State, there must be no tolerance for individual or collective behaviors, irrespective of who adopts them, that attack constitutional order and put at risk the stability of the mandate and functioning of the legislative bodies to exercise Legislative, Judicial and Executive powers.

Dino Matross, a leader of the MPLA went even further and without mincing words, he said [pt] to Luanda Antena Comercial radio that those who had the courage to protest would “get it”.

The words of this leader are not enough to demotivate those who desire change in Angola. The Diário da Liberdade [pt], has a declaration by a young Angolan who declares that he does not fear the crushing machine of the State.

Um jovem angolano disse, e com razão, que o povo de Angola já não é aquele povo de 20 anos atrás. Atualmente conhecemos a besta que vamos derrubar e não somos intimidados pelas ameaças mesquinhas do corrupto Dino Matross (secretário-geral do MPLA).

A young Angolan said, and rightly so, that the people of Angola is no longer that people of 20 years ago. Today we know the beast that we are going to bring down and we are not intimidated by the trifling threats of the corrupt Dino Matross (secretary general of the MPLA).

In response to the announced revolt, the Special Committee of the MPLA for Change has convened a counter-rally for today, March 5, in Luanda, with the objective of preventing protests against the government.

Carlos Alberto Jr. republishes the email in circulation with the invitation on his blog Diário de África, and concludes [pt]:

Com uma população miserável e uma juventude cada vez mais insatisfeita, as autoridades precisarão de muita habilidade para manter o país nos trilhos.

With a population living in misery and an increasingly dissatisfied youth, the authorities will need great skill to keep the country on the rails.

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