9 January 2018

Angola: João Lourenço Criticises Portugal's Judicial Sector

Luanda — The Angolan Head of State, João Lourenço, last Monday in Luanda deemed it offensive the way the Portuguese judicial sector has been dealing with the lawsuit involving the former vice president of Angola, Manuel Vicente, having warned that the reinstatement of good relations between both countries is dependent on the outcome of this case.

The Head of State was speaking at the collective interview he gave to local and foreign journalists, in the ambit of his 100 days at the helm of the country, having explained that Portugal should obey the judiciary agreement in the framework of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), which enables the Angolan authorities to request that the lawsuit be transferred to and the accused tried in Angola.

Joao Lourenço stressed that Angola is not pressing for the acquittal of Manuel Vicente, but appealing for the trial to take place in Luanda (Angola).

Manuel Vicente, who is also a former C.E.O of the state-owned oil company Sonangol, has been indicted in Portugal in the ambit of the Fizz Operation on suspicion of having tried to bribe the Portuguese public prosecutor Orlando Figueira, who was investigating serious economic crimes in Portugal, in which Manuel Vicente was allegedly involved.

The Head of State regretted the fact that Portugal is rejecting the request of the Angolan authorities on the grounds of lack of trust in the Angolan judicial system, making it clear that Angola does not accept this kind of treatment.

Although he is offended by the posture of the Portuguese judiciary, João Lourenço said that Angola is patiently waiting for the outcome of the process in Portugual.

"We are not the judges, we have no competence to say whether the engineer Manuel Vicente committed or not the crime he is accused of. Let it be clear", said the Angolan Head of State.

When asked what the Angolan government intends to do in case Portugal rejects the transfer of the lawsuit, the Angolan Head of State preferred to leave the question unanswered.

ANGOP has learnt that the trial of Manuel Vicente in Portugal is scheduled to start this January 22.

Meanwhile, during the interview, João Lourenço denied that there was a certain tension between him and the leader of the (ruling) MPLA party, José Eduardo dos Santos.

Since João Lourenço was sworn in as Head of State, there have been insinuations in the press and social media that there is a "bicephalous power" in the Angolan governance that can be a constraint for the Head of the Executive, a situation that João Lourenço deemed "a false problem".

He said he is fine with being the Head of State and the vice president of the MPLA party, adding that in his capacity as President of the Republic he just needs to guide his actions through the Constitution and the law, while the head of the MPLA has to be faithful to the party's Statute.

He said he holds good and normal working relations with the former Head of State and still leader of the MPLA, having reminded, however, that José Eduardo dos Santos has pledged to quit active political activity in the present year.

"Nothing is above the Constitution", emphasised João Lourenço, adding that each one just has to play his role.

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