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18/02/2008 | Sao Tome and Principe - Taking Charge of the Energy Sector

Stratfor Staff

The president of Sao Tome and Principe, Fradique de Menezes, appointed opposition leader Patrice Trovoada as prime minister, according to Feb. 15 media reports. Though he heads the opposition Independent Democratic Action party, Trovoada and the president are thought to be cronies — meaning his appointment should consolidate presidential control over the country’s small but potentially rich and strategically located energy sector.

 

Patrice Trovoada of the opposition Independent Democratic Action (ADI) party was named Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe, according to Feb. 15 media reports. The appointment of Trovoada, believed a crony of the island nation’s president, Fradique de Menezes, is seen as consolidating the president’s control over the country’s small but potentially rich and strategically located energy sector.

Trovoada will be Menezes’ eighth prime minister since he became president in 2001, replacing Tome Vera Cruz. Trovoada’s appointment, made Feb. 14, is expected to include control of the country’s critical Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, which oversees Sao Tome and Principe’s energy sector.

Though Trovoada, son of former President Miguel Trovoada, heads the opposition ADI party, a rival to Menezes’ ruling Force for Change Democratic Movement, Trovoada and Menezes are thought to be cronies. Trovoada was foreign minister from 2001-2002 before becoming Menezes’ special energy adviser from 2003 to 2005. Trovoada led the government’s negotiations in 2003 that opened up nine oil blocks for bidding, attracting bids — and sizeable signing bonuses — from 20 oil companies including Chevron Corp. and Norway’s Statoil. Since his appointment as special energy adviser, Menezes has backed Trovoada as ADI head as a tool to sow division within the ADI and among the opposition to ensure the parliament remains weak and fractious.

Trovoada’s appointment as prime minister will consolidate the president’s control over the country’s one major resource, oil. Despite being Africa’s poorest country — oil production has not yet begun, with exploration still under way — Sao Tome and Principe is located strategically in the energy-rich Gulf of Guinea region. This region supplies 2 million barrels per day of oil to the United States, and factors squarely in the Pentagon’s Africa Command energy security strategy for Africa.

Stratfor (Estados Unidos)

 


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