Angola’s ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) will have a new leader by September this year as immediate past president Jose Eduardo dos Santos stands down from a position he has held for close to four decades.
The Portuguese news agency, Lusa, cited an MPLA statement as stating that President Joao Lourenco will be taking over from dos Santos as party leader later this year.
The move effectively means that dos Santos has given up his last political post after he retired from the presidency to allow Lourenco contest on MPLA ticket in the August 2017 polls.
Dos Santos had in March 2018 asked that the MPLA picks a new leader to replace him. Despite resigning as president, he held on to the influential party leader position.
At the time, he said the party should wait until December or April next year before choosing a new leader to replace him. It effectively means that he will leave “active political life” this year.
“I recommend that it would be most prudent that the party’s extraordinary congress which will resolve the question of the leadership of the MPLA be in December 2018 or April 2019,” he told a central committee meeting at the time.
Dos Santos blessed Lourenco to succeed him when he stepped down in September 2017 after 38 years in power, but holding onto his position as head of the party, according to some political watchers created two centres of power in the oil-rich nation.
Since taking over the reigns of power, Lourenco has moved to assert himself as a man of his own. He has sacked dos Santos’ old allies and removed family members from key positions, including his daughter Isabel from the chair of state oil company Sonangol and José Filomeno from the sovereign wealth fund.
MPLA has governed Angola continuously since independence from Portugal in 1975. Lourenco is the country’s third president.