Angola’s President of 37 years to step aside in 2018?

Last Friday, Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos announced he would bring his rule to an end in 2018, after what would be almost four decades in power. Whether dos Santos does stand down remains to be seen, as it is not the first time the Angolan leader has announced his intended departure. Either way, talk of his retirement is exaggerated.

President dos Santos is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, having led the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government since 1979 following the death of Angola’s first president, Agostinho Neto. Chosen quietly as Neto’s successor, dos Santos has overseen the transformation of Angola into the third largest economy in Africa, dominated by the wealth generated from the state oil industry. Since the defeat of the UNITA rebels in 2002 and the assassination of Jonas Savimbi, dos Santos’ has been unchallenged internally and circumvented the  formal institutions of state.

The president’s surprise announcement that he would be would leaving “active political life” in 2018 comes in the wake of continued economic turmoil following the collapse of oil prices. Angola has been shaken to the core, with revenues down 60 per cent. Civil service salaries have gone unpaid, food prices have shot up and discontent has grown in the public sphere leading to a brutal response from the Angolan state. Critics have regarded dos Santos as responsible for the failure to convert the countries enormous oil wealth into meaningful development and the diversification of the economy away from the dominant oil industry. The richest person in Angola, the president’s daughter, is a billionaire, despite many in Angola living without electricity or access to healthcare.

Weary Angolan’s are sceptical about Friday’s announcement, as this is not the first time he has announced he wants to leave. In 2001 the president promised not to stand in the next presidential elections, only for them to be delayed until 2008 by which time dos Santos had forgotten about this pronouncement. Others are more trusting, and see dos Santos as moving to secure a successor that will protect his legacy and financial status.However at this point, dos Santos very much remains in control in Angola. Any change of leadership, in 2018 or later, remains questionable whilst the president is still alive and in the presidential palace. The 73 year-old dos Santos remains a resilient character, and may do for some time to come.

Source: Agência Brasil, Wikimedia Commons.  



Angola’s President of 37 years to step aside in 2018?

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