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Ex-Angola minister dies in Mozambique hotel room

Jose Tembe

BBC Africa

Angola has confirmed the death of its former minister of higher education, Adão Gaspar Ferreira do Nascimento, in a hotel room in the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

A press statement from the Angolan embassy in Maputo says the 60-year-old's body has been moved to a local morgue for a trauma examination.

The embassy says the death occurred at 21:00 local time on Wednesday night.

Mozambique's National Criminal Investigation Service is investigating the cause and circurmstances of Mr do Nascimento's death, the embassy's statement adds.

Dos Santos defends himself in rare TV briefing

Dos Santos press briefing
TV Livre

Former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has held a surprise press briefing in the capital, Luanda, to defend himself against his successor's allegation that he left the country broke when he stepped down last year.

“I did not leave the state coffers empty. In September 2017 at the time of the changeover of presidents, I left $15bn (£11bn) in the National Reserve Bank (BNA),” he said.

The 76-year-old, who ruled the southern African nation for 38 years, did not take questions from reporters.

His daughter, Isabel dos Santos, who is Africa's richest woman, tweeted about the event.

She alluded to the country's strained finances blaming President João Lourenço for the situation.

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Mr Lourenço had told Portugal's weekly Expresso newspaper on Saturday that he found the country’s coffers empty when he took over, the East African newspaper reports.

When asked if he would disclose his own assets, President Lourenço told the paper he had no need to do so as he was not wealthy.

“I am not a millionaire or a billionaire,” he said.

Since coming to office, the 64-year-old has also targeted members of his predecessor's family in an anti-corruption crackdown.

He fired Ms dos Santos last year from heading the state oil company Sonagol. She has denied any wrong-doing but prosecutors have summoned her to answer questions about her 17 months running the firm.

Her brother, José Filomeno dos Santos, was detained in September on suspicion of money-laundering, embezzlement of public funds and fraud. He has not commented on the allegations.

Congolese diamond deportees 'need help'

BBC World Service

Congolese migrants expelled from Angola push a rented bicycle to transport their children and belongings along the road to Tshikapa, Kasai province near the border with Angola, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - 12 October 2018
Angola accuses the Congolese migrants of digging for diamonds illegally

The UN refugee agency has warned that Angola's deportation of more than 300,000 nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo this month has left them in an extremely precarious situation.

The UNHCR said there were many allegations that migrants had been killed, reportedly by the Angolan security forces, with six deaths confirmed.

It urged the Congolese government to help the returnees, saying that many had insufficient access to food, water, healthcare and proper sanitation.

The mass expulsions coincide with the Angolan government's plan to reform its diamond industry; large numbers of Congolese had worked in informal mining operations.

Congolese migrants fleeing 'attacks' in Angola

The Angolan authorities say there's been no crackdown on the Congolese miners
Thousands of small-scale Congolese diamond miners and their families living in northeastern Angola have been crossing the border back into their country. They say they've been the target of attacks from the security forces there. Giulia Paravicini, a Reuters freelance journalist, has been reporting from one of the towns along the DRC-Angola border. You may find her testimony disturbing. 

(Picture: Congolese migrants expelled from Angola carry their belongings on their way to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: REUTERS/Giulia Paravicini)

BreakingHigh-profile Angolan journalist acquitted

One of Angola's most well-known journalists Rafael Marques de Moraies and editor Mariano Bras Lourenço have been acquitted by a court in the capital, Luanda.

Marques de Morais, who runs the anti-corruption website Maka Angola, and Mariano Bras Lourenço, who is the editor of the weekly newspaper O Crime, were charged on 21 June 2017 for publishing an article alleging illegal land acquisition involving former Attorney General João Maria de Sousa.

A verdict and sentencing were expected to be read out today.

A Human Rights Watch official has tweeted a picture of the two journalists and comments from the presiding judge saying: "We can't punish messengers of bad news."

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Plans to bring Dakar Rally back home

A rally car in the desert

Plans are underway to return the famous Dakar Rally to Africa, a decade after the last race was held on the continent because of security problems in Mauritania, Etienne Lavigne, the Director of Amaury Sport Organisation, which organises the competition, has said.

"We already have some avenues open, notably in Algeria, Angola and Namibia, where we've had very high-level talks with for several months," Lavigne told news agency AFP.

Since the 2008 cancellation, the rally has been held in South America with the 2019 edition set to be held exclusively in Peru - the first time it has been confined to one country in its 41 year history.

Worsening economic conditions in Argentina and Chile, coupled with general difficulties hosting rally, are behind the push to return the race to Africa.

"If we can no longer host it in South America, we must find countries that have a topography that can offer up 10-12 days of competition," Lavigne told AFP.

"This can be found elsewhere provided you have a little bit of time to anticipate it, " he added.

Next year's race in Peru will take place between January 6-17.

It will be a looping 10-stage rally-route mapped around the Peruvian deserts, with organisers admitting it "promises to be one of the sandiest in the history of the rally".

The rally's first edition was held in 1978 with competitors racing from Paris in France to Senegal's capital, Dakar.

Angola sovereign fund probe: Swiss properties raided

A number of properties in Switzerland have been raided in connection with suspected money laundering involving Angola's $5bn sovereign wealth fund and central bank, news agency Reuters reports.

The Swiss prosecutors' office announced it conducted the raids on Friday "as part of the criminal proceedings being conducted against persons unknown on suspicion of money laundering".

The country's attorney general opened the investigation in April, months after it was revealed Angola's sovereign wealth fund had paid tens of millions in fees to a Swiss-Angolan businessman Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, who works closely with José Filomeno dos Santos, the former president's son.

They deny any wrongdoing.

There were no further details on the raids.

Angolan ex-president stands down from party

Jose Eduardo do Santos and Joao Lourenco
Getty Images
Dos Santos, left, is handing over power to President Lourenço

Angola's ex-president José Eduardo dos Santos is standing down as the leader of the ruling party, Lusa news agency reports.

The Portuguese press reports that a statement from the governing MPLA says the party has agreed that the current president João Lourenço will take over from Mr Dos Santos in September.

Mr Dos Santos did not stand for election in August, after 38 years in power.

But when he stood down he retained his position as the leader of the MPLA.

Since Mr Lourenço took over as president, he sacked Mr Dos Santos's son as the head of the sovereign wealth fund, sacked his daughter as the head of the state oil firm and terminated multiple government contracts with Mr Dos Santos's other children.

Angolan leader sacks army chief and spy boss

Angolan President Joao Lourenco
Angolan President Joao Lourenco is showing he is his own man

Angolan President Joao Lourenco has sacked his army chief and head of the foreign secret service.

This is the president’s latest purge against officials with links to his predecessor or those tainted by corruption allegations.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepped down as president last September after 37 years.

Mr Lourenco, nicknamed "JLo", was hand-picked by Mr Dos Santos to succeed him - and at the time analysts expected him to maintain the status quo.

His most high-profile move has been to fire Isabel Dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of his predecessor, as head of the country’s state oil company.

According to Portugal RTP public broadcaster, 22 officials have been fired today.

Army chief Gen Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda was named by prosecutors last month as a suspect in a corruption probe, Reuters news agency reports.

Andre de Oliveira Sango served as foreign spy boss for more than a decade and has been a long-time Dos Santos loyalist, it says.