Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos confirmed that he will not run in this year’s presidential election, bringing an end to 38 years of his reign as head of state.
According to Reuters, Dos Santos will however remain president of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) retaining full powers that include choosing parliamentary candidates and appointing top posts in the army and police.
Defence Minister Joao Lourenco who is the deputy president of the MPLA and who is viewed as a dos Santos ally will be the presidential candidate for the party, dos Santos said ahead of a party meeting where candidates for the elections will be confirmed.
President Dos Santos, 74 announced March last year he would not run in elections due in August but opponents remained suspicious given he had severally broken similar pledges during his long rule. He has been President of Angola since 1979 four years after the country attained its liberation. The MPLA won parliamentary majorities in the three elections since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002..
While he is credited with overseen an oil-backed economic boom and the reconstruction of infrastructure devastated by the war, he has also been criticized for leading one of the continent’s most corrupt regimes.
According to Transparency International, while 70 percent of Angola’s population lives on less than $2 a day, president dos Santos has been enriching himself and his associates, including his billionaire daughter, Isabel dos Santos, named by Forbes as Africa’s richest woman.