Jan 21 Angola's ruling MPLA party used its
two-thirds parliamentary majority to approve a new constitution
on Thursday which critics say will increase President Jose
Eduardo dos Santos three-decade-long grip on power.
Here are the main points in the new constitution:
ELECTIONS - The new charter will allow dos Santos, who has
never been elected, to remain in power without having to run in
a direct ballot. Instead, the president will be chosen as the
leader of the party with the biggest share of the vote in
parliamentary elections. The president's mandate runs for a
maximum of two five-year terms. Elections are expected to take
place in 2012.
PRESIDENTIAL POWERS - The constitution keeps the president
as the head of state, the holder of the executive power and
commander-in-chief of the armed forces. It replaces the prime
minister with a vice president, ensuring the president will be
more involved in running day-to-day affairs of state.
JUDICIARY - The president appoints judges to the
Constitutional and Supreme courts. The president also appoints
the head of the Court of Audits -- the high-court in Angola
responsible for reviewing legal issues on public expenditure.
CABINDA - The new constitution maintains the status of
Angola's oil-producing exclave of Cabinda, where separatists
from FLEC have waged more than three decades of war against the
government, as part of the nation's territory. This month FLEC
fatally attacked the Togo soccer team as it travelled in
LAND - The land belongs to the state. Only the state has the
right to grant land concessions and these concessions can only
be given out to Angolan nationals or companies. This means
foreign investors must have a local partner or they must set up
an Angolan arm to access the land.
FLAG - The new constitution keeps the red and black Angolan
flag, which also carries a golden star, a cog wheel and a
machete in the middle, unchanged. Like other African nations,
the nation's flag is a slight modification of the ruling MPLA
party's flag and the opposition UNITA party has asked for it to
RELIGION - The new constitution guarantees freedom of
religion in a country where the majority of the population mixes
traditional African beliefs in witchcraft with Catholicism.
FREEDOM OF PRESS - The charter protects the freedom of press.
The state has a huge sway over the national media - it controls
two national television stations, the radio and the country's
only daily newspaper. Some Angolan journalists have in the past
been arrested for criticising the government.
DEATH PENALTY - The death penalty remains banned.
(Reporting by Henrique Almeida; Editing by Matthew Jones)