Bloomberg News

Angola Names Former Sonangol Head as New Economic Minister

January 31, 2012

(Adds currency in fifth paragraph.)

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos appointed Manuel Domingos Vicente as minister for economic coordination, the government-run Agencia Angola Press reported, citing a statement from the president’s office.

Vicente was chairman of state-owned oil company Sonangol EP since 1999, overseeing Africa’s second-largest crude production behind Nigeria. He was replaced at the post by Francisco Maria Lemos dos Santos, Agencia Angola Press said. Repeated calls and e-mails to spokesmen at Sonangol and the presidency seeking comment weren’t returned.

The former Sonangol chairman’s move into government probably means the president is following plans mentioned in September by Rui Falcao de Andrade, a spokesman for the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, for Vicente to succeed Dos Santos, said Justin Pearce, a post-doctoral fellow at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London.

“This new development shows that Dos Santos has plans for Vicente outside of Sonangol,” Pearce said yesterday in an e- mail. Deploying Vicente as minister for economic co-ordination brings him “into government at the highest level at the same time as confirming his position as part of Dos Santos’s powerful inner circle.”

The Angolan kwanza rose to its highest level since Jan. 25 trading at 94.8 to the dollar as of 8:43 a.m. in Luanda, the capital.

Lemos, known as a technocrat, will soothe some of the anxiety among foreign oil companies, such as ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., BP Plc and Total SA, that will accompany Vicente’s departure, Pearce said. Angola pumped about 1.72 million barrels a day in January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Dos Santos ‘Available’

Dos Santos, who is 59 and has been president for 32 years, said in November he’s “available” to run again in elections scheduled for Sept. 5.

Then the Cabinet named Vicente Dec. 12 to another three- year term at the Sonangol post, confounding some analysts who had expected Vicente to assume a high-level government post and be named to the MPLA’s election slate, Pearce said. With Dos Santos expected to run again and win, the No. 2 or No. 3 slots on the list could indicate a successor for the 2017 election or earlier, he said. The party’s convention last month to announce candidates was postponed and a new date hasn’t been scheduled.

“Vicente is close to Dos Santos, but politically is an outsider,” said Pearce. “Long-time MPLA stalwarts understandably would have wished for a presidential successor from within their own ranks.”

Francisco Cabila, editor of the weekly newspaper Continente, cited in October unnamed “elders” of the MPLA saying that Vicente lacked the proper credentials to succeed Dos Santos, such as being a longtime party member.

Dos Santos is Africa’s second longest-serving ruler after Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

--Editors: Robin Meszoly, Larry Liebert

To contact the reporters on this story: Candido Mendes in Luanda at cmendes6@bloomberg.net Colin McClelland in Toronto at cmcclelland1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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