Editor’s Note: April 30, 2018

Angola’s turnaround almost feels too good to be true

Former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos will stand down as head of the country’s ruling MPLA party in September, and will hand power to his successor João Lourenço.

The move is the latest in a series of sweeping changes in the Southern African country under Lourenço, who took over from Dos Santos in September after 38 years in power.

Widely expected to be a puppet president he is instead presiding over an unlikely turnaround 

A reform drive is underway to open Angola’s economy to much-needed international investment, but the most remarkable aspect of Lourenço’s government is its crackdown on members of the country’s elite – including the formerly untouchable Dos Santos family. Jose Dos Santos’s children Isabel and Filomeno have been stripped of key economic positions, with the latter facing corruption charges.

Other powerful figures linked to the Dos Santos era have also found themselves in the government’s crosshairs.

Such change would stand out anywhere, and is particularly remarkable for how unlikely it seemed less than a year ago. The country has long been seen as the epitome of stagnant, autocratic rule in Africa. 

It almost feels to good to be true. In any case, Angola is a country to watch closely.

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