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Angola threat to end special relations with Portugal

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-31

Angola has threatened to sever special economic ties with Portugal amid a probe by Portuguese prosecutors into the fortunes of senior Angolan officials.

Angola has threatened to end its special economic partnership with Portugal after high-ranking Angolan leaders became the focus of a money probe by Portuguese prosecutors this month.

Investigators are looking into suspicious financial transactions that have allowed some in Angola to amass fortunes virtually overnight. Luanda has retaliated by warning its former colonial master it could take its thriving business elsewhere.

“Unfortunately things are not going well,” Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos said in a speech to parliament last week.

Angolan Vice-President Manuel Vicente, Attorney-General Joao Maria de Sousa and even members of Dos Santos' own family are under scrutiny.

“There have been misunderstandings at the highest level of the state, and the current political climate does not encourage the implementation of the previously announced strategic partnerships,” the president told lawmakers.

Angola is one of the main destinations for exports from Portugal, while wealthy Angolans have invested heavily in some of Portugal’s top firms. But Angolan officials are now saying the country might be better off deepening trade with China, Brazil and South Africa.

Expat community frets

Rising from the ashes of a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002, Angola is now being hailed as an African El Dorado. The southwestern African country has the second largest oil reserves on the continent and has posted enviable growth rates over the past 10 years.

Fernando Gamboa, an Angolan university history professor, says that not all the prosperity is the result of hard work. “As a historian, I have said it and I will say it again, I don't know of any fortune that was made in a transparent manner,” he told FRANCE 24.

Many Portuguese firms and workers have moved to Angola to escape severe economic problems at home. An estimated 200,000 Portuguese have settled in Angola and are now worried the diplomatic row between Lisbon and Luanda could hurt them personally.

“Which country has invested most in Portugal? It’s Angola,” noted a Portuguese national who has opened a restaurant in Luanda and wished to remain anonymous. “I don't think we can afford to go and ask people where they got the money that buys them lunch.”

Portuguese authorities have tried to calm tensions but the row is far over. Angolan Foreign Minister Georges Chikoti said a bilateral summit in February to expand cooperation between the two countries could now be cancelled.

Date created : 2013-10-31


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