Angola’s likely next president hits the campaign trail

Luanda (AFP) – Angolan presidential candidate Joao Lourenco, who appears set to win next month’s election, launched his campaign on Tuesday with a speech vowing to tackle corruption and spread wealth.

Defence minister Lourenco, 63, is the chosen successor of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, whose decision to not contest the August 23 vote will bring to an end his 38 years in power.

“Corruption is a great evil that will not go unpunished,” Lourenco told thousands of ruling MPLA party supporters in Huambo, Angola’s second city.

Promoting his campaign slogan “Improve what is good, correct what is wrong”, he also promised to distribute “national wealth more equally” and to improve the business climate.

Dos Santos’s rule has seen the end of civil war and an investment boom in the oil-rich country.

But he has been criticised as secretive and corrupt, with authorities crushing dissent and Angola’s citizens suffering dire poverty as his family became hugely wealthy.

Lourenco, a party loyalist and former general, emerged as the probable next president last year at a meeting of the MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola), which has ruled since independence from Portugal in 1975.

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