Dos Santos' Angola: Another Potential Democratic Transition in Africa

Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos

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Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos is one of the longest serving African leaders. On February 3, 2017,  he confirmed  that he will not run in this year's presidential election due in August 2017.

The 74 years old leader, in power since 1979, said in March last year that he would not run in  the elections due this year  in  Most people did not believe it yet, preferring rather to wait and see, before they believe it.  In the past, he had promised to step down and often changed his mind. Now he has kept his word. But, there is a catch:

 he will retain control of the absolute ruling party, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Addressing the nation,  President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos said that on December 2, 2016,  the party leadership selected  the  62-year-old Defense Minister Joao Lourenco as its presidential candidate.

Defence Minister Joao Lourenco  is a former soldier and deputy president of the MPLA. Like Jose Dos Santos, he is a veteran of the independence struggle and  graduated from the Soviet Union.

Angola's Challenge: The After Jose Eduardo Dos Santos 

Jose Eduardo Dos Santos is definitely on his way out but remain President of MPLA. The highly secretive African leader has been discretely touring the World and visiting the allies who helped him during the civil war and those who have strong business interests in Angola.  His succession appears also to be well prepared.  His party, MPLA won parliamentary majorities in all the elections since the end of the independence war. 

Rights groups and independent observers have accused President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos  of personalized and autocratic rule and sometimes of corruption. His daughter, Isabel dos Santos was appointed last year as head of the state oil company, Sonangol;  his son, Jose Filomeno, is the chairman of Angola's sovereign wealth fund.

The businesswoman and investor Isabel Dos Santos is considered by Forbes to be the richest woman in Africa and the most powerful and richest woman in her country. She owns several businesses in Angola, Portugal, and the Netherlands. But although she appears to have benefited from being the first daughter of Angola, those close to her do not question her business acumen and her entrepreneurial spirit since she graduated from the UK elite school of King's College. It is that spirit that appears to have prevailed in Angola since the country emerged from decades of civil war.

Hence, several critics wonder whether Angola is entering the after DosSantos' dynasty period or rather a transition towards a new Dos Santos' era.