Angola Taxi Drivers’ Strike Sparks Protests Against Ruling Party
(Bloomberg) -- Angolan taxi drivers blocked major intersections in Luanda on Monday to initially protest against Covid-19 restrictions, but the unrest quickly spread to include political grievances.
Video footage of the demonstrations showed hundreds of people walking along a main street in the capital city alongside a burning vehicle. Luanda police spokesman Nestor Goubel said 17 people were detained because of damage to property, including a ruling party building.
“Groups of individuals moved by unknown reasons erected barricades, intimidated people and carried out acts of vandalism, burning tires,” Goubel said. “They torched a bus and have ransacked a local MPLA office.”
The unrest comes as President Joao Lourenco prepares to seek re-election in an August election in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer.
The strike, which left thousands of Angolans stranded, was organized to protest against a rule that limited the loading capacity of the blue-and-white minivan taxis at 50%.
While the government revoked the restriction last week, several taxi drivers’ associations decided to go ahead with the protest. Complaints include daily police harassment and bad road conditions and the need for the government to professionalize taxi driving, according to the New Alliance of Taxi Drivers Association of Angola.
ANATA has nothing to do with the “acts of vandalism allegedly carried out by individuals that aim to tarnish the good name of the associations that have called for the strike,” the association said in a statement.
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