Angolan police on Saturday arrested 10 protesters and two journalists at an anti-government demonstration in the capital Luanda, Portuguese state news agency Lusa reported, as tensions rise ahead of next month’s presidential election.
A youth movement has staged several demonstrations since March last year calling for long-serving Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to resign after 32 years at the helm of Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria.
“This is a group of disorganized individuals that turned up to disturb public order,” Lusa cited a police spokesman as saying. “We came here to contain them.”
The police spokesman said the arrest of one the journalists covering the event for Portuguese TV network RTP, had been “a misunderstanding” and the reporter had been released. It was not known whether the second journalist was still being held.
The latest protest comes six weeks before the Aug. 31 election to choose lawmakers and a president, with Dos Santos widely expected to secure a win for his party thanks to its superior financial resources and control of state media.
Though small in number, the protest movement has survived despite a police clampdown and attacks by pro-government groups. It accuses Dos Santos of mismanaging Angola’s oil revenues, suppressing human rights and doing too little to end widespread corruption and poverty.
In the run up to the poll, veterans of Angola’s long civil war that ended a decade ago have held protests to claim unpaid pensions and opposition parties have accused the ruling MPLA of trying to rig the vote.
The protests have rattled the MPLA, which has responded by organizing pro-government demonstrations. Senior party figures have accused the opposition of planning “a national insurrection.”
The election will be only the second since the end of the 27-year war. The MPLA won the war against rebel group UNITA and then crushed its rivals in a 2008 election by obtaining 82 percent of the vote.