Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos called on Friday for a new constitution to allow the first presidential poll in almost two decades, a vote he is widely expected to win.Dos Santos, who has ruled the oil-producing African country for 29 years, said the new constitution would make clear whether the president would be elected directly by Angolans or by parliament.

angola-p“The constitution will define the best path to follow. Only then will we have the conditions to announce a calendar for the presidential election,” he said in a speech to his ruling MPLA party broadcast on Radio Nacional de Angola.

Dos Santos said the new constitution should be approved in 2009. He did not provide details about the new constitution but has often said Angola, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, needs to reform its laws to reinforce democracy.

In power since 1979, Dos Santos is expected to run for president and win after his party clinched over 81 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election in September.The last presidential poll took place during a lull in fighting in 1992. Late UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi lost and the conflict resumed. He was killed in 2002.

Angola’s economy has been growing in double digits since the end of the war and it now rivals Nigeria as sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producer. However, almost two-thirds of the 16.5 million-strong population survive on less than $2 day.

Dos Santos said the fight against poverty would remain a priority. His government is to spend one-third of next year’s $42 billion budget to improve the lives of ordinary Angolans.”Our priority will continue to be to improve education, health, housing, water and sewage systems and the fight against poverty,” said dos Santos.



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