Angolan President Fires Finance Minister As Economy Struggles

Angolan President Fires Finance Minister As Economy Struggles

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos fired the country’s Finance Minister Armando Manuel on Monday two month after Luanda ended talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over emergency funding.

Dos Santos appointed Augusto de Sousa Mangueira, the former chairman of Angola’s Capital Markets Commission, as the new finance minister, according to a statement quoted by state-owned news agency Angop.

Mangueira is a familiar face to foreign investor whom he interacted with during his tenure at the capital market. He was recently also introduced into the central committee of the ruling MPLA party.

No reason was given for the dismissal of the 44-year-old London-educated Manuel who has held the post for three years and was due to hold the post until 2017.

In the cabinet reshuffle, dos Santos also replaced his agriculture minister and dropped the powerful Chief of Staff in the presidency, Edeltrudes da Costa, who was implicated in a recent land eviction. Marcos Alexandre Nhunga was appointed to the post.

Dos Santos also replaced Edeltrudes da Costa with Manuel da Cruz Neto as the president’s chief of staff.

Manuel had presided over an economic slump in the Africa’s second largest oil producer due to a sharp drop in crude prices on the international market over the last two years. Angola’s government relies on the oil industry for about 95 percent of export income.

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The oil slump has caused the country’s currency, the kwanza, to depreciate more than 60 percent against the U.S. dollar in the last 20 months as Angola’s economic growth slowed to less than two percent from a high of 20 percent in 2007, AFP reported.

The weak local currency has seen inflation soar to 35 percent forcing the central bank to hike interest rates by 675 basis points since mid 2015 to 16 percent.

Angola’s economic struggles has fueled opposition against dos Santos’ 36-year rule, Voice of America reported.

In June, Angola ended its talks with the IMF about a loan to help the Southern Africa country cope with the loss of oil revenue. The country said it only required technical support from the Washington-based international lender, Bloomberg reported.