Former President of Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos dies at age 79


Lisbon, Portugal-José Eduardos Santos, once as President of Angola, fought the longest civil war on the continent for nearly 40 years, turning his country into a major oil producer and one of the poorest countries in the world. One of the longest-serving rulers. Most corrupt countries died on Friday. He was 79 years old.

The Angola government announced on its Facebook page that Dos Santos died after a long illness at a clinic in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

Dos Santos has lived mostly in Barcelona since he resigned in 2017 and has been treated in Barcelona due to health problems.

João Lourenço, the current head of state of Angola, has announced a five-day mourning for the people from Saturday. At this time, the national flag will be raised with a half-mast and the public event will be cancelled.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recalled Dos Santos’ participation in the struggle that led to Angola’s independence and leadership “through the signing of a peace agreement that ended the civil war in 2002,” his spokesman said. rice field. “During his tenure, Angola became an important regional and international partner and advocated multilateralism.”

The UN Security Council silently paid tribute to Dos Santos at the start of the meeting on Friday after the current chairman, UN Ambassador to Brazil Ronaldo Costa Filho, expressed “sadness” to his death. ..

Dos Santos came to power four years after Angola’s independence from Portugal and was involved in the Cold War as a surrogate battlefield.

His political journey extended to the rule of one-party Marxism in the post-colonial years and the democratic government system adopted in 2008. He voluntarily resigned when his health began to decline.

In public, Dos Santos was unpretentious and sometimes even shy. But he was a wise operator behind the scenes.

By distributing Angola’s wealth among military generals and political rivals to ensure their loyalty, he firmly established the 17th-century presidential residence in Luanda, the Atlantic capital of the southern African nation. I figured out. He demoted anyone who felt he had gained a level of popularity that could threaten his command.

For over 20 years, Dos Santos’ greatest enemy was Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the UNITA rebels, who fought in the bushes after the post-independence guerrilla rebellion aimed at expelling the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). ..

MPLA received financial support from the Soviet Union and military support from Cuba in the war with UNITA. Savimbi was boosted by the United States and South Africa.

The war continued until 2002, when the military finally pursued Savimbi in eastern Angola and killed him in a short period of UN-mediated peace.

Dos Santos suddenly broke Marxist policy after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. He approached Western countries where oil companies invested billions of dollars primarily in offshore exploration.

His supporters praised his ability to adapt to changing situations. His critics called him unscrupulous.

Dos Santos was invited to the White House in 2004 by then-President George W. Bush as the United States aimed to reduce its dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Angola has become the second largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria, producing nearly 2 million barrels per day. We also unearthed over $ 1 billion in diamonds each year.

However, wealth never reaches the people of Angola, who were at risk from large areas of unmapped minefields during and after the civil war and had little access to basic equipment such as running water and roads. It was. Education and health care were sparse-and still-.

New York-based Human Rights Watch reported in 2004 that the state’s financial resources in Angola lost more than $ 4 billion in oil revenues between 1997 and 2002, based on numerical analysis by the International Monetary Fund. Said in the book.

The US State Department said Angola’s wealth is “concentrated in the hands of small elites who often take advantage of government status for large-scale personal wealth.”

Dos Santos was believed to own valuable real estate and foreign bank accounts in Brazil, France and Portugal.

Under his control, and despite general poverty, street protests were rare and were soon disbanded by heavily armed riot police, commonly known as “ninjas.” A well-paid and well-equipped commander-in-chief was stationed in the palace of Dos Santos, lining up on the dirty, hollow streets of the city every time he appeared.

Dos Santos, the son of a bricklayer from Luanda, the coastal capital of Angola, began his political life in 1961 with boots and rifles as an 18-year-old guerrilla of MLPA in the fight for independence from Portugal.

The MPLA boss separated him from combat in 1963 and sent him to the Soviet Union for training as an oil engineer and military communications expert.

When he returned to Angola in 1970, he skillfully negotiated a compromise to prevent the MPLA from splitting into debris groups and was appointed to the party’s central committee as a reward.

When independence arrived in 1975, Dos Santos became Minister of Foreign Affairs and later planned to be Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of a single-party Marxist state.

As a surprising choice, MPLA elected Dos Santos as president at the age of 37 when Angola’s first leader, Agostignonet, died in 1979.

Dos Santos never tried to establish personality worship and remained a mysterious figure. He reportedly personally said that he once felt that his true profession was a monk’s profession.

He was also unknown for his political sensitivities. While millions of Angola were fighting hunger during the civil war, he built a multi-million dollar mansion on the edge of Shanti Town in Luanda.

He was definitely considered a loser to Savimbi in the first democratic elections in the country in 1992, following the peace treaty signed last year.

Margaret Anste, a former UN Special Rapporteur in Angola, explained that Dos Santos is almost the opposite of Savimbi.

“His attitude was heavy and unobtrusive, and it seemed ridiculous to the point of being shy and timid. The contrast with Dr. Savimbi’s glamorous personality is not so clear. There wasn’t, “she wrote in the 1996 book on Angola, The Cold War Orphans.

But as further evidence of his viability, Santos held up again, leading the MPLA to a majority in parliament in a simultaneous legislative election, slightly surpassing Savimbi for the president.

Western support gradually shook behind Dos Santos as Savimbi refused to defeat in the ballot box and returned to the armed struggle.

The enemy signed another UN-mediated peace agreement in 1994, which was unveiled four years later.

Dos Santos, on the other hand, has an army of about 100,000, many with many years of experience in jungle combat, valuing its role as a power broker in neighboring countries and other regions.

He sent 2,500 troops to the Republic of the Congo in 1997 to help President Denis Sassou Nugeso seize power, and the following year, with the rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda, President Laurent-Kabila’s government. We sent a delegation to Congo to help fight.

The end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002 provided widespread economic development opportunities for countries in southern Africa, which are more than three times as large as California.

But public infrastructure has been devastated. About one-third of the population at the time, four million, were displaced for combat. The wealth of oil and diamonds continued to fall into the hands of the political and military elite.

The Berlin-based Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2005 lists Angola as one of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world.

In a 2005 study on Angoran, Stanford University economics professor John McMillan said, “A politician’s wife flew to New York on a government health budget when children using land mines were begging on the streets. “. corruption.

Dos Santos was finally pressured to hold the ballot and announced the legislative election in 2008 and the presidential election the following year.

The Dos Santos MPLA won the most votes in the parliamentary seats. But then the head of state changed the tack by first postponing the presidential vote and then abandoning it.

He changed the constitution so that the president would be elected by the party that won the parliamentary elections. It put him in power for another eight years.

However, Dos Santos has announced that he will retire in 2016 as his health is reported to be deteriorating.

He was replaced by MPLA powerhouse Lourenço, who drove anti-corruption into his flagship policy. He targets the grown-up children of Dos Santos. They have great personal wealth, but their predecessors are not targeting.

The changing fate of Dos Santos’s family has led one of her daughters to suspect that the plot was behind her father’s illness and death. Spanish prosecutors and police are investigating allegations by Tchizé dos Santos that people near the former president tried to kill him, did not take good care of him, and acted negligently.

Dos Santos, married four times, survived by his current wife, Anapolea, who had three children. He is known to have at least three children and various grandchildren.

Associated Press