Angola: dos Santos stepping down but staying on as President of MPLA

Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been President of Angola since 1979, confirmed on 3 February in a televised broadcast that he would be stepping down at the elections in August 2017. However it was confirmed that although he is stepping down as president of the country he will remain president of the ruling party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). In that role he will have the power to  choose parliamentary candidates and nominate to top posts in the military and police.

Dos Santos is the second longest serving leader in Africa. The MPLA decided in December that its vice-president and current  Defence Minister Joao Lourenco will be its presidential candidate in the forthcoming election but as this was not confirmed by the President some speculated if this would indeed be the case. The President’s announcement, made in TV broadcast, clarified who will be the MPLA candidate for President.

The President of Angola is elected by the parliament and not directly elected.  The MPLA got 82% at the last election in 2012.

It has been pointed out that whilst dos Santos will no longer be president of the country he is not retiring from public life which he had previously indicated he would do in 2018 and as president of the party he will in effect be the boss of Joao Lourenco who it is widely expected will be elected to succeed him. Dos Santos appointed his  daughter, Isabel dos Santos as head of the state oil company, Sonangol in 2016, and his son, Jose Filomeno, is chairman of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund.

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