Bloomberg News

Angola’s Ruling Party MPLA Names dos Santos for President

June 13, 2012

Angola’s ruling party nominated President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to lead the southern African country if it wins parliamentary elections set for Aug. 31, spokesman Rui Falcao de Andrade said.

Manuel Domingos Vicente, the former chairman of the national oil company, Sonangol EP, is the candidate for vice president, de Andrade told reporters today in the capital, Luanda. Vicente, 55, was appointed minister of economic coordination in January.

“If Dos Santos wins, and if Vicente is given a key role in government, it will mean that the lines between state and the national oil company Sonangol will be more blurred than before,” Marne Beukes, an analyst at IHS Global Insight in London, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “It potentially opens a door to more political interference and vested interests.”

Dos Santos, 69, has ruled Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest oil producer, for 32 years. The former Marxist state produces about 1.8 million barrels of crude a day, pumped mainly by companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM:US), Chevron Corp. (CVX:US), BP Plc (BP/) and Total SA.

The choice of Vicente as dos Santos’s running mate faced opposition from some members of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, according to London-based analysts such as Sebastian Boe at IHS Global Insight and Markus Weimer at Chatham House. A decision on a slate of candidates was delayed from December as the party debated the matter.

Younger Face

“The installation of Vicente in the No. 2 spot is also potentially a maneuver to present a younger face for the party,” Boe said today in an e-mailed response to questions. “Dos Santos is attempting to bring a more modern, business- friendly face to the executive, but he may face resistance from hard-line MPLA factions,” he said.

The election will be the nation’s second since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002. The biggest party in parliament chooses the president of the country. With more than six million registered members, the MPLA captured 82 percent of the votes in a 2008 ballot.

The former Unita rebel group is the country’s biggest opposition party. Former Unita leader Isaias Samakuva left and set up his own party in March, the Ample Convergence for the Salvation of Angola, or Casa. The split will help the MPLA maintain a majority in the 220-member parliament where it holds 181 seats compared with Unita’s 16.

“I don’t expect much to change for the oil industry, and policies governing the sector will most likely continue,” Beukes said. “It is a case of rather the devil you know than the one you don’t.”

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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