Angolan police vow to clamp down on planned protest

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 18, 2013 6:48 PM
Angolan police vow to clamp down on planned protest

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angolan police vowed on Wednesday to use force if necessary to crack down on an anti-government youth protest planned for Thursday in Luanda, at which they expect activists to distribute posters that incite violence and disturb public order.

"We will repress, I repeat, vehemently repress, all acts that go against order and public security, and we will use force if it is necessary," Aristofanes dos Santos, spokesman for Angolan police said on state television, TPA.

The Angolan Revolutionary Movement, which has held several protests since 2011 urging President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to resign after 34 years in power in Africa's No. 2 oil producer, said the march will be peaceful and is protected by Angolan law.

Amnesty International called on Angolan authorities not to suppress the march, avoid making arbitrary arrests and to use force only if strictly necessary.

Members of the protest movement said at a news conference on Monday that they believe the event is authorized under Angolan law because they have had no formal response from the local government to their earlier communication about the protest.

Police spokesman Dos Santos said the ban was not about the right of assembly and protest, but was imposed due to fears that the demonstrators would use slogans that incite violence.

"Note that in the planned demonstration they (the activists) will distribute posters that incite violence. They have been duly warned by the police chief - we are alert and any violation of the norm will be severely punished," he added.

The run-up to the protest was marked by the arrest on September 12 of Nito Alves, a 17-year-old activist, for allegedly printing protest slogans on T-shirts that police said defamed the president and incited violence to topple the government.

Though small in number, the Angolan Revolutionary Movement has survived a police clampdown and attacks by pro-government groups. It accuses President Dos Santos of mismanaging Angola's oil revenues, suppressing human rights and doing too little to end graft and poverty.

Dos Santos, who won an election in 2012 to secure another five-year term, said in June that the protest group was not representative as most Angolans, who support the government.

(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; editing by Christopher Wilson)