Angola’s President to Step Down

Jose Eduardo dos SantosJose Eduardo dos Santos

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Africa’s second-longest serving leader, has confirmed he will not run in this year’s presidential election, calling an end to 38 years as head of state, but he will retain control of the powerful ruling party.

Dos Santos, 74, said in March last year he would not run in elections due in August 2017, but opponents remained suspicious given he had reneged on similar pledges in the past, Aljazeera reported.

The ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola approved 62-year-old Defense Minister Joao Lourenco as its presidential candidate at a meeting on December 2, dos Santos said in a televised speech on Friday.

Dos Santos will remain president of MPLA, retaining sweeping powers that include choosing parliamentary candidates and appointing top posts in the army and police.

Dos Santos has held tight control of Angola, where he has overseen an oil-backed economic boom and the reconstruction of infrastructure devastated by a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.

Despite its oil wealth, most of Angola’s 22 million people live in poverty.

Critics accuse dos Santos of mismanaging Angola’s oil wealth and making an elite, mainly his family and political allies, vastly rich in a country ranked among the world’s most corrupt.

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