President Dos Santos Celebrates his Birthday in Dictatorial Style

The heavily armed Presidential Guard Unit is out in the streets, in parts of the capital Luanda for today’s celebration of President José Eduardo dos Santos’ 73rd birthday bash. In a strange sign, this time the guards are using war camouflaged helmets.

Many of the soldiers are holding rocket-launchers, RPG-7s , and carrying backpacks of rockets. Why does a republic have to celebrate its president’s birthday? Why does the president’s birthday party have to mean the militarization of the streets?

There is a protest set to take place today. The mothers, wives and sisters of the 15 political prisoners, will gather at the Independence Square to demand freedom for their loved ones. So far, the government and the judicial authorities have only
politically accused the youth protesters with plotting a coup to overthrow President Dos Santos. After more than 60 days in the detention, the authorities have yet to charge them.

Does the militarization of the president’s birthday bash mean the regime is fearful? Is it afraid of the women who dared to organize a protest on the president’s birthday? Or is it just afraid of the people? It begs the question: who is afraid of whom? Today, there are no birthday cakes for the people. They must surrender to a display of brute force, in which the kalashnikovs AK-47S and rocket launchers RPG-7 define the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. It is against the backdrop of the  threat of using extreme violence against critics and the people that the president will eventually blow the candles of his cake, today, with some peace of mind.