, LUANDA, Mar 7 – Angolan authorities on Monday arrested five people including journalists ahead of a planned protest against the 31-year rule of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, one of its organisers said.
Three journalists of the Novo Jornal daily, their driver and a rapper famed for his inflammatory lyrics against the veteran strongman were arrested overnight in Luanda, said Mangovo Ngoyo, speaking by telephone from London.
Following the arrests, organisers pushed back the demonstration to later Monday after initial planning to march at midnight, he added.
Since last month rumours have circulated on the Internet of North Africa-style protests scheduled to begin on March 7.
While the organisers of the protest remain largely anonymous, a Facebook page called "The Angolan People\’s Revolution" had called on Angolans to march at midnight with posters "demanding the departure of Ze Du (Dos Santos\’ nickname), his ministers and his corrupt friends."
Rapper Brigadeiro Mata Frakus, who recently returned from exile, is hugely popular on the Internet since he released a song criticising Dos Santos, in power since 1979.
The deputy manager of Novo Jornal, Gustavo Costaun, confirmed the arrests of its employees. Police could not be reached for confirmation.
Local media put the number of arrests higher. Angola 24horas said 15 to 20 people were arrested at May 1 Square in Luanda and carted away to a police station.
The chief opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), has said it would not take part in the protests because it does not know who is calling for the marches.
Many had dismissed the anonymous call to protest as a charade but the ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), treated it as a credible threat, organising large pro-government demonstrations Saturday in Luanda and several other cities in a bid to show its strength.
Although Angola is the continent\’s first producer of crude oil along with Nigeria, the majority of its population lives beneath the poverty line.
More than 80 percent of voters elected the presidential party during 2008 elections, the first since the end of its civil war (1975-2002).