Rapper Calls in Court for End of Dos Santos 36-Year Rule

The rapper and activist Luaty Beirão, one of the seventeen accused in Luanda with preparing a rebellion, said Angola is a “pseudo-democracy” and once again called for the president to step down.

Beirão is the seventh activist that Judge Domingos Januário has questioned in the twelve sessions of the trial that have been held at the Luanda Provincial Court. The judge asked several questions and the examination will continue today.

Luaty Beirão denied before the court that the meetings the group used to have, from May until the detentions in June, were meant to promote violent acts to overthrow the president.  He said the gatherings were solely academic discussions around a book, and that there were no personal political agendas.

Beirão criticized what he called Angolan “pseudodemocracy” and repeated calls he has been making since 2011 for the resignation of President José Eduardo dos Santos whom he called a dictator — just as in the secret recordings that the prosecution has presented in the trial.

“He has given enough to this nation” said the musician and activist referring to the 36 years Dos Santos has been president of the country.

This is a case involving 17 people (including two young women under provisional freedom) who have been accused, among other crimes, of having been carrying out preparatory acts to undertake a rebellion and to make an attempt on the president’s life. The prosecution alleges that there was a course for activists which had been going on since May.

The trial is being held without the presence of journalists in the court; they were only allowed to be present on November 16, when the proceedings started, and will also be allowed to be in the court when the judge announces the final verdict.

As an alternative, in the last days, journalists have been allowed to follow the trial through closed circuit television in a separate room. They are not, however, allowed to have any electronic equipment with them.

In a declaration to Lusa at the beginning of the trial, Luaty Beirão — one of the accused who has been under preventive detention since June — said President Dos Santos would have the final say on the case.

” What the president will decide is what will carry. What we have here is all theatre. We know very well how these trials work. We could come up with all sorts of plausible arguments, and could try hard to prove that this is a charade, if they have made up their minds that we should be found guilty, that will be the case. Our minds are ready for a guilty verdict,” he said.

To protest what he believed to be excessive preventive detention, Luaty Beirão went on a 36-day hunger strike between September and October. This forced the authorities to transfer him to a private clinic in Luanda.

The prosecution alleges that Luaty Beirão confirmed in his answers that the group used to have meetings on Saturdays in Luanda to “explore ways of overthrowing the president and his government”. According to the prosecution the youths aimed to achieve regime change “through protests and the barricading of streets”, and had plans to form a transitional government

According to the prosecution, the activists used to meet on Saturdays in Luanda to discuss strategies based on a manuscript of one of the charged, Domingos da Cruz, entitled ” Tools to Destroy a Dictatorship and Avoiding a New Dictatorship – Political Philosophy for the Liberation of Angola,– a Philosophy for the Liberation of Angola.” This was an adaption of the book on non-violent resistance “From Dictatorship to Democracy” by the American academic Gene Sharp.