President Lourenço’s efforts to reform Angola have focused on fighting corruption and entrenched patronage networks after 37 years of rule of President Dos Santos. But campaigns to improve accountability and legitimacy of the state’s institutions have been unevenly implemented. The new President has succeeded in improving freedom of the press and in removing the former president’s inner circle, including his children, from their influential positions. But his moves to reform the security sector have been met with criticism and fear that they risk consolidating the ruling party’s control and reversing the progress made in integrating the former fighting factions into a unified, effective, force.
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While João Lourenço has made headlines for high-profile corruption indictments against the dos Santos family patronage network, Angola’s authoritarian political system remains largely unchanged.
João Lourenço’s first year in office has been marked by notable reforms and the consolidation of power. If ordinary Angolans are to benefit this momentum must continue, along with institutional checks that can curb the excesses of the past.
Angola’s new administration will face a myriad of challenges that cannot be resolved without reforms. Is there a chance for change or just more of the same?
Responding to the coups, conflicts, and other derailments of democratic processes in recent years, Africa’s 2022 elections are, in large part, an effort to right the democratic ship of state on the continent.
Arms embargoes can be effective but require regional and international buy-in, adequate monitoring, and the imposition of sufficient costs on actors who evade the sanctions.
Ruling party militias in Africa are an increasingly employed tool to intimidate political rivals and keep populations in check—violating democratic rights and undercutting military professionalism.
Global warming is contributing to more and extended heat waves, a tripling of droughts, a quadrupling of storms, and a tenfold increase in flooding in Africa since the 1970s—exacerbating security threats on the continent.
Conflict remains the primary driver of acute food insecurity in Africa, imperiling over 100 million people.
African countries can negotiate a more equitable role in FOCAC, but this requires a more strategically focused approach, better coordination, and greater accountability to their citizens.
(This article originally appeared as a chapter in "Russia Strategic Intentions White Paper," Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) publication series, NSI, May 2019.)
Russia has significantly expanded its engagements in Africa in recent years. These engagements often take the form of propping up embattled and isolated autocratic leaders of countries that are rich in natural resources. The United States can draw a distinction with Russia’s destabilizing role by pursuing a positive engagement strategy in Africa. The United States must avoid the Cold War trap of competing with Russia for the affections of corrupt, autocratic leaders in Africa, however, as such a policy would be disastrous for Africa while not advancing US interests.
The power imbalance between China and Africa poses a challenge for negotiating equitable investment deals. The interests of African citizens can be strengthened through agreements that are transparent, involve experts, and facilitate public engagement.