Joao Lourenço – Angola’s President - had a closed-door meeting with journalist and political activist Rafael Marques in Luanda. After the meeting at the Presidential Palace of Cidade Alta, Marques urged citizens to fight all corruption in the country, not only that in government institutions.
The award-winning journalist Marques has been a critic of Lourenço’s predecessor Eduardo Dos Santos’ government, and was convicted for insulting the president, spending months in prison. He has written articles on Angola’s conflict diamonds and spoken out against army brutality and government mismanagement of resources.
“I have had the opportunity to speak to the President of the Republic on issues of corruption, human rights and the current situation of ‘zungueiras’, and how the provincial authorities are reacting to ensure that a solution to the problem is found,” Marques is reported to have said in state media. The zungueira are street hawkers, mostly women, who have been targeted by authorities for illegally selling their wares on the streets.
Marques managed to obtain the private audience with the president after he was refused entry to a meeting between Lourenço and members of civil society on Tuesday December 4th. The President, embarrassed by the incident, personally invited Marques for an hour-long meeting. The presidency did not give a comment on the meeting.
Lorenço’s administration has been praised for giving an ear to non-governmental organisations and critics, and even Marques acknowledged this was a departure from the previous style of government.