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Angola: President Lourenco kicks off with tough economic warning

Angola

<p>Angola’s first new president in almost four decades vowed to rebuild an economy devastated by falling oil prices and fight corruption at his inauguration on Tuesday.</p> <p>João Lourenço told thousands of supporters in Luanda he would also tackle gaping inequality in Africa’s second largest oil producer – though analysts have already raised doubts about his ability to make far-reaching change.</p> <p>“No one is so rich and powerful that they cannot be punished and no one is so poor that they cannot be protected,” he said to loud applause.</p> <p>In a 45-minute speech, Lourenço said he would strive to bring in reforms covering gender equality, the freedom of the press, private enterprise and public health.</p> <p>Former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos remains head of the ruling <span class="caps">MPLA</span> party, giving the veteran leader influence over key policy decisions.</p> <p>Any serious attempt to transform the country could put Lourenço on a collision course with senior party figures and powerful interest groups.</p> <p>Angola’s economy fell into recession last year, while unemployment is officially over 20 percent and a shortage of foreign currency has forced firms to pull back operations.</p> <p>Lourenço said he would work to reduce state intervention in the economy and give free enterprise the space and support to thrive.</p> <p>He has previously said he does not rule out negotiating a deal with the International Monetary Fund or World Bank to help rebuild an economy heavily reliant on oil.</p> <p>“There are enormous challenges before us … We call on the help of everyone on this difficult journey,” he said.</p> <p><strong><em><span class="caps">REUTERS</span></em></strong></p>

No one is so rich and powerful that they cannot be punished and no one is so poor that they cannot be protected.

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