In Angola Lourenco appointed as New President
Angola’s Defense Minister Joao Lourenco has been named as the presidential candidate of the country’s ruling party. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has said that he will not seek re-election after 37 years in power.
For the first time in 37 years, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos will not lead his party into the upcoming elections. “The party approved the name of the candidate heading the list in the August elections as Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco (pictured above),” dos Santos stated. Dos Santos is the second longest serving leader on the African continent. Only Teodoro Obiang Nguema, president of Equatorial Guinea, has been in power longer than Angola’s head of state.
Dos Santos has been president of Angola since 20 September 1979. The country has only had one other president, Agostinho Neto, under whom the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
Dos Santos has been dogged by health problems and they have worsened in recent years. His public appearances have become more infrequent, his speeches shorter and his holidays in the Spanish metropolis of Barcelona longer. He has also been undergoing medical treatment in Spain for increasingly prolonged periods. Rumors that he wanted to leave office have intensified over the last few months.
Meanwhile Angolans have been speculating for years whom dos Santos and the Central Committee of the popular ruling Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) would choose as a successor. Many had expected a member of the dos Santos dynasty. They include the president’s son Jose Filomeno dos Santos, who heads the country’s $5 billion (4.7 billion euros) sovereign wealth fund. This was a position bestowed on him by his father. Two other perceived potential candidates were the president’s daughter Isabel dos Santos, who runs Angola’s state-owned oil company Sonangol, and the deputy president Manuel Vicente, who has close ties to the dos Santos family.
Joao Lourenco was born in Benguela in southern Angola in 1954. He has been associated with the military throughout his career. He did his military training in the artillery and then became a political officer whose duties included the indoctrination of Angolan soldiers. He received more military training and studied history and related subjects from 1978 to 1982 in what was then the Soviet Union. Equipped with the rank of general, he turned to politics becoming leader of the MPLA in parliament and then deputy president of parliament. He is currently defense minister.