Angolan police arrested more than a dozen people on Saturday for allegedly planning to organise protests threatening “order and public security”, a statement by Angola’s Ministry of the Interior said on Sunday.
The arrests come on the heels of a recent state visit by President Eduardo dos Santos to China, which the government denied was aimed at negotiating a two-year moratorium on debt repayments.
Tensions in the oil-producing nation’s capital Luanda have risen since state-controlled media reported Angola would be looking to renegotiate terms of the more than $20 billion worth of oil-backed loans issued to it by Beijing.
“Several steps in this city of Luanda…culminated in the arrest in flagrant criminal action of 13 nationals who were preparing to carry out acts to change the order and public security in the country,” the government said in a statement seen by Reuters.
Police visibility has increased in the streets of Luanda in response to public suspicions and dissent over how much the government would concede to Chinese interests in its bid to revive an economy hit by low crude price.
China has built strong ties with Angola since the end of a long civil war in 2002, and President dos Santo’s visit was dedicated to seeking finance for a $4.5 billion hydropower scheme, amongst other projects.
Dos Santo’s 37-year rule over the southern African nation has come under pressure from an economy reeling after crude prices plunged to a six-year low of $45 a barrel in January.
Oil accounts for around half of Angola’s GDP, 80 percent of tax revenues and 90 percent of export earnings.