Angolan police put down anti-poverty protests

LUANDA — Police arrested more than 20 people to break-up rare protests in the Angolan capital but released all of them the following day, police and activists said Thursday.

An anti-poverty protest Wednesday near downtown Luanda was organised by the “Revolutionary Intervention Movement”, a gathering of rights activists, they said.

About 100 protesters called on President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to improve living conditions in Angola, where UNICEF estimates that 87 percent of the urban population lives in shantytowns, often without water supplies.

“We were arrested a few hours after the start of the protest and taken to different police stations,” said Carbono Casimiro, spokesman for the movement.

That night police also picked up the head of the movement and organiser of the protest, Luis Bernando, at his home, Casimiro told AFP.

Police said 12 people were arrested and all had been released.

The demonstration “was completely criminal”, said Alberto Cavuquila, head of legal services for the provincial government.

“As long as protesters have criminal aims, the police will take action,” he said.

The movement has called for new protests on Friday and Saturday, Casimiro said.

Another protest was staged Wednesday in the impoverished Roque Santeiro district, where a sprawling open market was closed by the government in September. Former vendors had gathered to demand the market re-open.

Vendors marched to the head of the local authorities, where a dozen were arrested for vandalism. They spent the night in cells but were released Thursday, police said.

In early March, a Facebook page called “The Angolan People’s Revolution” called for an anti-government protest but it fell flat after about 15 people were arrested, including journalists.

The protest call was seen as an effort to launch a north African-style movement against Dos Santos, who has been in power of the mineral-rich country since 1979.
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