Angola jails activists over election protest

Thursday April 20 2017

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos

This file photo taken on August 17, 2011 shows Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos applauding at the opening ceremony of the 31st Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Luanda. Protesters calling for credible elections in the country have been jailed. PHOTO | STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN | AFP 

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Seven Angolan opposition activists have been sentenced to 45 days in jail over a protest calling for transparency in next year's election when veteran President Jose Eduardo dos Santos will stand down.

The election, due to be held in August, will mark a new chapter for Angola as Dos Santos hands over power after ruling the oil-rich country since 1979.

"The court condemns the accused to 45 days of imprisonment and a fine of 65,000 kwanzas ($390, Sh39,000) for the offences of rebellion and association with criminals," said the judge in Cacuaco, a district of the Angolan capital Luanda.

Among those convicted late Wednesday was rapper Adao Bunga, nicknamed "McLife", a prominent critic of Dos Santos.

About 50 protesters attended the unauthorised demonstration in Luanda on Monday calling for fair elections, with police arresting seven people.

Dos Santos, who has dominated the Angolan government and the ruling MPLA party for decades, has been regularly accused of crushing dissent.

The MPLA has ruled since independence from Portugal in 1975.

Joao Lourenco, the current defence minister, has emerged as Dos Santos's chosen successor.

After constitutional changes in 2010, Angola does not directly elect a president, but the leader of the winning party automatically becomes head of state.