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Thousands take to streets in Praia to protest political office-holder statute 31 Mar�o 2015

Praia residents took to the streets in droves this Monday afternoon with posters, whistles, drums and, of course, their voices to express their displeasure with last week’s approval by parliament of the new Political Office-Holder Statute. Thousands of people participated in what is being considered a historic landmark in terms of political protest in the country.

Thousands take to streets in Praia to protest political office-holder statute

The flood of people made their voices heard through a wide range of manners, including bombastic slogans, whistles, cries, banners and clothing evoking Amílcar Cabral, all with a single common objective: showing parliament, in no uncertain terms, the population’s discontent with the new Political Office-Holder Statute, implying that voters no longer believe in the representatives they chose to act in their name. The messages sent were not at all flattering, expressing the common sentiment that lawmakers from all of Cape Verde’s political parties had usurped the power invested in them by the electorate. The condemnation of the legislators was unanimous – as was, ironically, the Cape Verdean parliament’s approval of the statutes at the origin of the outrage, and which resulted in a 65% pay raise for political office-holders.

After gathering at the entrance to the National Assembly building, the crowd, made up of citizens of all ages and social classes, marched around the building, nearly encircling the country’s main law-making body. The message was certainly as clear as it was grave: the people no longer trust the members of the political class. The protest, despite the large numbers of people, was peaceful and calm, despite the obvious outrage.

After the manifestation at the National Assembly, the protestors, albeit in smaller numbers, marched past the Government Palace in Praia’s Várzea district before heading to the central Plateau region, where the Presidential Palace is located, symbolically “reminding” the head of state of his power to veto the law passed by the National Assembly last week.

Sal takes to the streets as well

On the island of Sal, meanwhile, the protest was less massive, but nevertheless echoed the cries of outrage heard all over the rest of the country. Between 400 and 500 people protested in the city of Espargos against what they considered the legislators’ “shamelessness.”

Santa Catarina makes its voice heard

The city of Assomada, in Santa Catarina, in the highlands of central Santiago island, also made its voice heard. The protest there drew a much larger crowd than had been expected. The same outrage felt in the rest of the country was voiced by the local population at the National Assembly’s decision to “dignify” its own profession while leaving the country’s other sectors wondering why those whom they elected felt they deserved more than those they represent.

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