President denies alleged political persecution in fight against corruption

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Angolan head of State João Lourenço denied alleged political persecution, as part of the ongoing fight against corruption in the country, since September 2017.

The President João Lourenço reacted during an exclusive interview with Jornal Expresso and Agência Lusa, adding that there are also many citizens appearing before justice.

The Angolan Statesman recognised that, despite efforts, the problem of corruption will take time to disappear.

“You cannot expect to end corruption in five years, I don’t even know if any country has ended, in the true sense of the word, with corruption”, he said, stressing that the problem “is not that there is corruption, it is that there is impunity”.

The Holder of the Executive Power said that Isabel dos Santos is “just one” among several citizens who must face justice and is not her political rival.

“I don’t see her as my political rival. Political persecution? An opponent is persecuted and MPLA’s opponents are known,” said President João Lourenço.

As for the process concerning the former Vice-President of the Republic, Manuel Vicente, the Head of State said that it was a case of sovereignty and that it was not Angola that caused what became known as “annoying” between the two countries.

Investigators allege Vicente paid Portuguese magistrate Orlando Figueira to drop two investigations that involved alleged money-laundering and Angolan investments in Portugal.

But the defense appealed, alleging that the former Vice-President has not been made defendant or notified of the accusation.

Still in Portugal, the Public Prosecutor’s Office accused Manuel Vicente of crimes of active corruption, money laundering and forgery of documents as part of Operation Fizz.

In May 2018, the Lisbon Court of Appeal decided to send Manuel Vicente’s case to Angola and admitted that the former Vice-President of the Republic enjoyed immunity, so he could not have been made a defendant or accused.

He underlined that it was the Portuguese judicial authorities who decided to take a senior official to the court.

I am not imagining Angola, said the President of the Republic, having the audacity, for example, to take José Sócrates to court if, eventually, he had committed a crime in Angola.

“Fortunately, the outcome was good (…) if it had taken longer, it might have left wounds, but I must guarantee that it didn’t leave any”, noted the Head of State.

As for the relationship with Álvaro Sobrinho, a Portuguese-Angolan businessman and former director of Banco Espírito Santo in Lisbon and of the BESA bank, he needn’t stop having relationships with people unless there are reasons to do so.

“He was not tried, he was not convicted, if he appears here I will not turn my back on him for sure, until proven otherwise he is a free citizen”, he said.

In his interview, João Lourenço stated that “in Europe it is not normal to ask heads of State to account for cases of corruption, nobody asks President Marcelo about the José Sócrates case”.

However, said the holder of the Executive Power, sometimes it is understood that Africa is different, particularly in Angola “, which he described as unfair. “This type of differential treatment is not fair”, concluded the president João Lourenço

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)