Angola to vote to replace long-serving President Dos Santos

Angolans are preparing to go to the polls to choose a new president. But although the country’s long-serving leader is standing down, he and his family do not seem ready to give up power.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 74, has been president of Angola since September 1979 – a total of 38 years.

While the colours of his ruling party – red, yellow and black – dominate the streets of the capital, Luanda, there are sprinklings of the yellow and blue of opposition parties.

Choosing his replacement marks a momentous occasion for a country where most people have known no other president.

But with his children in prominent positions in Angola, and the incoming president’s powers weakened, Mr Dos Santos is unlikely to be out of the picture.

While many credit him for leading the country to recovery at the end of the war in 2002, others accuse him of staying in office too long.

He has also been dogged by rumours of ill health, after travelling to Spain for medical reasons and returning for a second time last month.

Speculation got so intense that his daughter, Isabel, posted a statement on Instagram denying that he was dead.

But it was before then, in February, that Mr Dos Santos indicated he would not run in the election and that Defence Minister Joao Lourenco would be the ruling party’s presidential candidate.

Holding on to power

Mr Dos Santos will continue as leader of the MPLA, and the powers of the incoming president have already been weakened.

Just a month before the election, Angola’s parliament passed a law that prohibits the new president from sacking the heads of the army, police and intelligence services for eight years.

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