Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos has died at age 79 after a prolonged illness. The country’s current president announced his death in a statement Friday.
Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Africa’s second-largest oil producer for nearly four decades, died Friday at Barcelona’s Teknon Clinic following a prolonged illness.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco announced dos Santos’ death on his verified Facebook page.
He described dos Santos as a “statesman of great historical stature” who led the country through very difficult times.
Dos Santos, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, stepped down in 2017 after ruling Angola for 38 years, a time marked by plunder of the nation’s oil wealth and personal enrichment of his family members and political allies.
Prior to stepping down to make way for his hand-picked successor, then-Defense Minister Lourenco, dos Santos helped draft a law that granted him immunity from prosecution until 2022. He also appointed his children to head the country’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund and the state-owned oil company Sonangol.
Despite accusations of corruption and nepotism, many Angolans credit dos Santos with bringing stability to the country.
His rule was marked by a brutal civil war lasting nearly three decades against the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebels. The war ended in 2002 and UNITA is now the second largest political party in Angola.
In his statement, Lourenco declared five days of national mourning in Angola beginning Saturday. The exact cause of dos Santos’ death has yet to be made public.