The head of Angola’s ruling MPLA party, former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, said on Friday that the party should wait until December or April 2019 before choosing a new leader to replace him.
Dos Santos handpicked Angola’s new President Joao Lourenco to succeed him when he stepped down last year after 38 years in power, but held onto his position as head of the party, creating two centres of power in the oil-producing nation.
Since then he has been under increasing pressure to give up the presidency of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), as Lourenco has moved against his old allies and removed Dos Santos’ family members from key positions.
Dos Santos previously said he planned to leave “active political life” in 2018 and party stalwarts had come out to say they would ensure the African strongman kept his word.
But, after a flurry of rumours on social media suggesting Friday’s central committee meeting could see a date for his removal forced upon him, dos Santos moved preemptively to set his own timeline.
“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 the central committee at the opening of the meeting.