Africa’s richest woman eyes Angolan presidency

Isabel Dos Santos

Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos, who is embroiled in a huge financial scandal, has suggested that she may seek to become the country’s president.

In
a BBC interview, Ms Dos Santos pointedly declined four times to rule out
running for the presidency.

Her
father José Eduardo dos Santos ruled Angola for 38 years. Prosecutors are
seeking to recover $1bn (£760m) Ms Dos Santos and her associates are alleged to
owe the state.

She has denied any wrongdoing.

Isabel Dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman

Ms
Dos Santos, 46, is one of the world’s richest women, with Forbes magazine
estimating her fortune to be worth $2.2bn, making her the richest woman in
Africa.

Her father
controversially appointed her as the head of Angola’s state-owned oil firm
Sonangol in 2016.

She
was sacked from the post in 2017 by President Joao Lourenço, her father’s
handpicked successor.

What did
she say?

In
an interview in London, she repeatedly stressed that her life was at risk if
she returned to Angola in the current circumstances.

Refusing
to rule out the possibility of running for president, she said she had a strong
sense of patriotism and duty to her country.

“To
lead is to serve, so I will do whatever my life takes me,” she said.

Ms Dos Santos later told a Portuguese television channel that “it’s possible” she might run for the presidency in 2022.

Isabel Dos Santos

The
announcement marks a dramatic shift for a woman who has consistently portrayed
herself as an entrepreneur with no interest in politics.

A court in the
Angolan capital, Luanda, last month ordered the freezing of her bank accounts
and of her vast business empire in the oil-rich country, following a string of
investigations into alleged corruption by the Dos Santos family which prosecutors
say has robbed the state of more than $2bn.

“These
are false allegations and this is part of… an orchestrated attack by the
current government that is completely politically motivated,” she said.

Her
half-brother, José Filomeno dos Santos, is on trial in Angola on charges of
corruption.

The prosecution alleges that he and his co-accused helped spirit $500m out of the country during his time as head of Angola’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. They have pleaded not guilty.

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