Angola - Government

The constitution of 1975, amended in 1976 and 1980, was promulgated and revised by the MPLA. The president of the republic is both chief of state and head of government. He appoints and leads the council of ministers. The Council of Ministers, chaired by the president of Angola, formed the executive. In 1980, a 223-member National People's Assembly, indirectly elected, replaced the Council of the Revolution as the supreme organ of the State. In January 1987, the Assembly was enlarged to 289 members, and by 1997, reduced to 229. Presently the 220-member body is elected by proportional vote to four-year terms.

A transitional government was established in December 1992 dominated by the MPLA. UNITA held six cabinet posts, and four other parties were also represented. In 1997, the MPLA and UNITA reached an agreement that allowed UNITA to participate in a Government of National Unity and Reconciliation. With the ruling party's approval, UNITA would nominate candidates for four ministerial positions: Trade, Geology and Mines, Health, and Hotels and Tourism. UNITA members would also occupy a number of deputy ministerial, governor, deputy governor, and ambassadorial posts. In early 1997, 70 elected UNITA deputies assumed their seats in the National Assembly, and Jonas Savimbi assumed the role of special advisor to President José Eduardo dos Santos.

The resumption of war in 1998 all but doomed this arrangement, and rendered the National Assembly nominally functional. In reality, it has little independence and does not have oversight over presidential appointments or the ability to initiate legislation. In 1999, dos Santos abolished the post of prime minister, vesting these powers in the director of his own office. He also created a parallel ministry of defense within the presidency.

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