On Friday, 21 July, Angola’s parliament approved a bill on the mandates of the heads of the Armed Forces, National Police, and Intelligence Services (Proposta de Lei sobre os Mandatos das Chefias das Forças Armadas, da Polícia Nacional e dos Serviços de Inteligência).
The bill guarantees that heads of the armed forces, national police and intelligence services can rule virtually unchallenged for a maximum of two four-year mandates. Article 2 of the law establishes the circumstances under which they can be removed: criminal and disciplinary reasons, age limit, non-extension of mandates, resignation and dismissal.
An exception to this article can be applied in a context of instability, such as war, imminent agression or disruption of the internal order.
The new law will effectively limit the power of future presidents to dictate affairs in the security and defense apparatus. In fact, President José Eduardo dos Santos will be exempt from observing the legislative measure, whereas future heads of state will have to abide by it.
In short, this law can be interpreted in two different ways:
- It is a move aimed at ensuring that José Eduardo dos Santos’ allies stay in those three powerfull offices, there protecting and maintaining influence and private interests of his circle, at least for eight years;
- It is a move aimed at limiting overarching power by the president’s office over security and defense institutions, something which has been a key feature in post-independence Angola.