Structure of Government
Adopted in November 1975, independent Angola's first and only Constitution dedicates the new republic to eliminating the vestiges of Portuguese colonialism. The Constitution provides numerous guarantees of individual freedom and prohibits discrimination based on color, race, ethnic identity, sex, place of birth, religion, level of education, and economic or social status. The Constitution also promises freedom of expression and assembly.
Constitutional revisions in 1976 and 1980 more clearly establish the national goal of a revolutionary socialist, one-party state. As revised, the Constitution vests sovereignty in the Angolan people, guaranteed through the representation of the party, and promises to implement "people's power." It also emphasizes the preeminence of the party as policy-making body and makes the government subordinate to it. Government officials are responsible for implementing party policy. Economic development is founded on socialist models of cooperative ownership.
Other constitutional guarantees include health care, access to education, and state assistance in childhood, motherhood, disability, and old age. In return for these sweeping guarantees, each individual is responsible for participating in the nation's defense, voting in official elections, serving in public office if appointed or elected, working (which is considered both a right and a duty), and generally aiding in the socialist transformation.
Despite its strong socialist tone, the Constitution guarantees the protection of private property and private business activity within limits set by the state. National economic goals are to develop agriculture and industry, establish just social relations in all sectors of production, foster the growth of the public sector and cooperatives, and implement a system of graduated direct taxation. Social goals include combating illiteracy, promoting the development of education and a national culture, and enforcing strict separation of church and state, with official respect for all religions.
The Constitution also outlines Angola's defense policy. It explicitly prohibits foreign military bases on Angolan soil or affiliation with any foreign military organization. It institutionalizes the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (Forças Armadas Populares de Libertação de Angola -- FAPLA) as the nation's army and assigns it responsibility for defense and national reconstruction. Military conscription applies to both men and women over the age of eighteen.
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