LUANDA, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Angola may scrap a planned strategic partnership with Portugal in favour of closer ties to China and other emerging powers if Lisbon does not show greater respect for the oil-rich African nation, Angola’s foreign minister warned on Wednesday.
Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos said last week that relations with Portugal were not well, reflecting tensions in the planned partnership between Africa’s number two oil producer and its former colonial ruler.
Portugal is Angola’s main source of imports and Portuguese companies are active in banking and construction in the vast southwestern African country. In turn, Angolan investors have snapped up large stakes in top Lisbon-listed companies.
“There has to be from Portugal some respect for Angolan entities and an ability to manage this relationship well, which has not been the practice and that affects the creation of a strategic partnership,” Foreign Minister Georges Chikoti said in comments broadcast by Angola’s TPA television channel.
“We don’t see it (strategic partnership) as our priority and much less think that we can work next year for that,” he added.
Tensions between Lisbon and Luanda became apparent last month after Portuguese Foreign Minister Rui Machete apologised for legal probes into business deals involving senior Angolan officials, including Vice President Manuel Vicente.
Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva has tried to mend the rift with Angola, which is second only to Nigeria as an African oil producer and whose rapid growth has given Portuguese firms and workers opportunities to escape severe economic problems at home.
Chikoti warned that his country has other options.
“We have other partners, equally or more important than Portugal in terms of volume, with which we can define a strategic partnership,” Chikoti said.
“We can evolve on this possibly with South Africa, we are already doing so with China, we can do it with Brazil, when we look at the level of cooperation and, above all, to the treatment between leaders of the countries.”
China is Angola’s main buyer of oil exports and has granted billions of dollars in loans to help it rebuild since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002. Brazil has also offered Angola huge credit lines as it seeks to increase its links with Africa.
Angola and South Africa are members of the Southern African Development Community, and Chikoti said last week the two countries have plenty of potential for cooperation.
Asked if a bilateral summit between Angola and Portugal planned for February in Luanda was still set to take place, Chikoti said: “I am not very sure.” (Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; Editing by Paul Simao)