Aug 8, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Eduardo dos Santos: Angola’s longest ruler who made peace and scandal

José Eduardo dos Santos, aka JES, was once celebrated as the country’s architect of peace, stabilizing the country after years of civil war. But by the time his death was announced at 11.10am Spanish time on Friday 8 July, most of his fans or supporters had deserted him. He was 79 years old.

Where he was once revered as a statesman, that had been replaced by clouds of scandal and controversy that befell him shortly after leaving office in the United States 2017 followed.

Dos Santos was ill for several weeks and was admitted to a hospital in Barcelona and even the Angolan government had confirmed this but claimed his condition was stable .

< p class="align--justify">On Friday, President Joao Lourenco’s office said the country was in “great pain” after the death of a leader he described as “a statesman of great historical importance.”

Mr. Lourenco spoke of Dos Santos as a man who “reigned with humanity for many years and in many difficult situations always had the fate of Angolans at heart.”

The explanation did not confirm what had killed him, but the former The leader had been in and out of hospital with respiratory problems and complications from cancer. He died at the Teknon Center in Barcelona.

His death might have been expected, just not far from the country he ruled and ruled like his personal company.

p >

Read:Dos Santos health is a “situation of concern”

After 38 years in power, Dos Santos resigned in 2017, handing power to Mr. Lourenco, his longtime ally. However, his successor would show his true colors by digging into Dos Santos’ closet and investigating corruption. The clouds surrounding Dos Santos’ past misdeeds forced him to officially leave the country for medical treatment in Spain on April 16, 2019.

Read: Former President of Angola on Defense

He stayed in Spain for the rest of his life, returning to Angola only occasionally. His years in power are what many Angolans remember most. When he left the country in 2017, the country’s key sectors like education and health lay in shambles, even though Angola ranks second only to Nigeria in African oil production. Some think his legacy is the reason even he himself had to see a doctor abroad.

Early years

Dos Santos was born on August 28, 1942 in the municipality of Sambizanga in Luanda, although some opposition figures and members of rights groups say he was born in Sao Tome and Principe, another former Portuguese colony, and only at an early age came to Angola /p>

He wrote his own story when he became President at the age of 37. He left after 38 years in power – from 21 also Commander-in-Chief of the Angolan Armed Forces, according to the constitution.

He attended primary and secondary school at the Liceu Salvador Correia in Luanda and joined the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in 1958, before entering politics as a member of clandestine groups fighting against colonialism.

In 1962 JES joined the armed wing of the MPLA and in 1963 was elected representative of the first party in Congo Brazzaville. In November of the same year he traveled to the former Soviet Union to study oil and gas at the Baku Institute, now Azerbaijan. He graduated in 1969.

While there he also studied military telecommunications. His love for Russia went beyond education. His daughter Isabel was born to a Soviet woman he met on a study trip. It is Isabel who remained powerful throughout his reign, and one who was the public face of a scandal that followed Dos Santos’ retirement. The Angolan government froze assets on her behalf as they chased the allegedly amassed wealth while her father ruled the country.

Read: Documents show Isabel dos Santos stealing fortune: ICIJ

Become President

However, before Dos Santos rose to become President , he was head of telecommunications for his MPLA and its military wing in Cabinda province, the Angolan enclave surrounded by DR Congo, between 1970 and 1974. But began to rise rapidly. In September 1974 he was elected a member of the MPLA Central Committee and Politburo.

In June 1975 he began coordinating his party’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Health.< /p>

When Angola gained independence on November 11, 1975, President António Agostinho Neto appointed him the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. He replaced Neto, who died on September 10, 1979.

He was elected President of Angola and leader of the MPLA, which also meant that from September 20, he was Commander-in-Chief was , 1979.

From 1986 to 1992, José Eduardo dos Santos played a leading role in resolving the cross-border crisis between Angola and South Africa that led to the repatriation of the Cuban Army of Angola, Namibian independence and the withdrawal of South African troops from Angola.

Family life

He married in 1991 Ana Paula dos Santos, with whom they were last seen in public together in 2019. The marriage followed the divorce from Russian Tatiana Kukanova, Isabel’s mother, with whom he had a relationship between 1966 and 1979.

JES and Ana Paula dos Santos had three sons: Eduane Danilo, Joseana dos Santos and Eduardo Breno.

He also fathered children with several partners, including Filomena Sousa, mother of José Filomeno dos Santos; and Maria Luisa Abrantes Perdigão, mother of Welwitschia and José Eduardo Paulino.

Read:The Angolan ex-president’s son turned 5 years old sent to prison< /p>

In September 2010, he dismissed a Congolese woman’s claim that he was her father after meeting the President, who publicly stated that she was his daughter.< /p>

Dos Santos explained at the time that he had moved from Portugal to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1961 during Angola’s struggle for independence, but denied having had a love affair with a Congolese woman during that time .

He lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for three years. “I never had a girlfriend or a lover. At the time, all I was thinking about was finishing my studies,” he said in 2010.

Civil War

Angola has had it since Tried multiparty elections in 1992, but only after Dos Santos left did it somehow improve. In the second round, Dos Santos and opposition leader Jonas Savimbi from Unita competed. Dos Santos won and the US was among the first western allies to recognize the victor.

But Unita, which translates to English as Union for the Total Independence of Angola, did not recognize this of poll results and returned to the war. It lasted until 2002.

JES is referred to by many Angolans as the “Architect of Peace” for his ability to negotiate with his opponent to end the war.< /p>

Dr. Savimbi was killed on February 22, 2002 at the age of 67 fighting government forces in the Lucusse region.

Read:Angola wants reburied the body of rebel leader Savimbi

The death of the Unita leader paved the way for a peace deal that ended one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil wars, the post-independence one erupted from Portugal in 1975. The war left at least half a million dead and some four million civilians displaced in the oil-rich nation.

But Dos Santos remained in office without constitutional legitimacy until 2008, when the country held its second election since independence and won its ruling MPLA by a large majority. Two years earlier, however, he accomplished a remarkable historic feat.

On August 1, 2006, the government under his leadership signed a memorandum of understanding for peace and reconciliation with a rebel group, the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Flec).

Flec had fought for the independence of the province of Cabinda for four decades. The Cabinda region produces up to 70 percent of Angola’s oil revenues, accounting for half of the country’s GDP.

Again, on August 31, 2012, Dos Santos and his governing MPLA won the polls. He agreed to quit five years later. In 2017, President João Lourenço took over the follow-up to the August 23 general election, which marked the end of a 38-year reign for JES.

Shortly thereafter, President Lourenço began the implementation of his anti-corruption agenda, during which several employees of his predecessor were implicated in misconduct. A number of JES relatives and allies were fired from key government institutions as a result of the campaign.

Indeed, Dos Santos’ close allies, including family members, have been widely accused of embezzling government institutions .

Read:Friction as Angolan President puts pressure on Dos Santos

For example, leaked documents in 2020 showed how Isabel gained access to lucrative land, oil, diamond and telecom deals when her father Jose Eduardo dos Santos was president.

The New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that published the ‘Luanda Leaks’ got their hands on Isabel dos Santos for looting her own country and using companies around the world to to clean their money.

Last year, the US Treasury Department identified two of JES’s close allies as corrupt targets in a list of fifteen others across Central America, Europe and Africa.

According to the US agency, Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento and Manuel Helder Vieira Dias Junior, government officials under the Dos Santos regime stole billions of dollars from the Angolan government through embezzlement.

After leaving office, Dos Santos retired to a quiet life and rarely appeared in public. He had lived through his reign and turned down interview requests from the international media, leading some to speculate that he was also generally shy. After retiring, Isabel spent a lot of time in the media fighting fires against her family.

Read:Angola prosecutors are closing in on the Children of dos Santos

However, at the time of his death, former First Lady Ana Paula dos Santos was among family members at his bedside.