Angola activists charged with planning ‘attack’ on president

Jose Eduardo dos SantosFifteen Angolan opposition activists, including rapper Luaty Beirao, were charged this week with planning to attack and oust long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the prosecution said in a statement seen on Friday.

They are accused of wanting to incite an insurrection by erecting barricades on the streets of the capital Luanda and burning tyres in places frequented by foreigners, including the airport, the prosecution said.

The activists face up to 12 years in jail if convicted on charges of “rebellion” and seeking to “attack the president of the Republic,” said the statement issued Thursday, adding that they wanted to replace the executive with a “national salvation government.”

The arrests, which began last Saturday, have been denounced by activist groups such as the Angolan Revolutionary Movement as an abuse of power and a violation of freedom of expression.

The country’s main opposition parties, Unita and Casa, have also condemned the government’s actions and called for the release of the activists.

Alongside Beirao, a key figure in the opposition movement, the detainees include Manuel Nito Alves, who was jailed for two months in 2013 for printing anti-Dos Santos T-shirts.

The activists demand better living conditions in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, where half the population still lives off less than $2 (1.8 euros) a day.

Demonstrations are banned and systematically repressed by police.

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