Angola is finally about to experience a change in top leadership following an announcement by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos that he’ll retire in 2017 after more than 37 years in power. The announcement, which was made on Friday, has some Angolans questioning the legitimacy of the announcement since dos Santos has made similar pledges before without honoring them.
In 2001, President dos Santos, who is the second-longest-serving president in Africa after President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, similarly announced that he would step down following the presidential election.
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He was however reelected as head of the ruling party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and no further presidential elections have been held since.
dos Santos introduced a new constitution in 2010 which stipulates that the leader of the political party with the majority seats in parliament automatically becomes the president of the country.
This legislation helped him retain power in the 2012 general election since his MPLA party won more than two-thirds of the seats in parliament.
While he has his fair share of supporters, President dos Santos has faced condemnation from some Angolans who accuse him of repressive tendencies and corruption.
In October, dos Santos together with his daughter Isabel, were summoned to court to answer to charges of nepotism after he appointed her as the head of Sonangol, a state-owned oil company.
A lawsuit was filed by 14 Angolan lawyers accusing the President of nepotism and violating the country’s probity law.
Isabel is the richest woman in Africa according to Forbes Magazine, but some critics question the source of her wealth.
Many have accused her of using her father’s influence to get kickbacks and assets from organizations and companies.
The 74-year-old President is also accused of silencing the country’s opposition in order to retain power. In 1992, tens of thousands of protesters were massacred by MPLA forces during three days of post-election violence.
In 2014, President dos Santos was named the “Man of the Year” by Africa World Magazine, an award that was based on the role he played during the country’s struggle for independence and his commitment to promoting peace and democracy through negotiations with opposition movements.
His contribution towards the development of the oil sector was highly praised in 2014 during the opening of the first annual world conference in London, which was aimed at supporting the national business sector.