Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has announced that he will not run in this year’s presidential election, putting an end to 38 years as head of state.
The 78-year-old however said he will retain control of the powerful ruling party.
He had in March 2016 stated that he would not run in elections – scheduled for August 2017 – but opponents remained suspicious given the fact that he had reneged on similar pledges during nearly four decades running Angola.
Dos Santos on Friday named Defence Minister Joao Lourenco as the presidential candidate for the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), ahead of a party meeting where candidates for the vote will be confirmed.
Lourenco previously failed to hide his desire to succeed Dos Santos when the president hinted in the 1990s that he might step down.
Lourenco was born on March 5, 1954 in Lobito in west Angola, and is married to a local employee of the World Bank.
Dos Santos, will remain president of the MPLA, retaining sweeping powers that include choosing parliamentary candidates and appointing top posts in the army and police.
His inscrutable public demeanour belies his tight control of Angola, a former Portuguese colony where he has overseen an oil-backed economic boom and the reconstruction of infrastructure devastated by a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.