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Angolan president talks to some of state’s toughest critics

JOHANNESBURG — Angolan President Joao Lourenco has met longtime critics of the government, generating some goodwill from activists who struggled to have their voices heard during the long rule of former leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Lourenco, who became president last year, on Tuesday hosted leaders of Angolan civil society organizations at the presidential palace to discuss education and other ways to improve the country, long criticized for corruption and human rights abuses.

State-run media said activist Sergio Calundungo welcomed what he called a “symbolic meeting” that indicates Lourenco is “not afraid to dialogue.”

One of the Angolan state’s harshest critics was barred from the meeting. However, journalist and activist Rafael Marques de Morais says he plans to meet privately with Lourenco on Wednesday after learning the president wanted to see him.