Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Africa's second-longest serving leader, has confirmed he will not run in this year's presidential election, calling an end to 38 years as head of state, but he will retain control of the powerful ruling party.
Dos Santos, aged 74, said in March last year he would not run in elections due in August 2017 but opponents remained suspicious given he had reneged on similar pledges during in the past.
The ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) approved 62-year-old Defence Minister Joao Lourenco as its presidential candidate at a meeting on December 2, dos Santos said in a televised speech on Friday.
Dos Santos will remain president of the MPLA, retaining sweeping powers that include choosing parliamentary candidates and appointing top posts in the army and police.
“He will stay on as the leader of the governing party, which is expected to win the election. That means he has an enormous amount of say not only on who his anointed successor - who is a close ally of his - will be,” but also on other key government officials, she said.
Dos Santos has held tight control of Angola, where he has overseen an oil-backed economic boom and the reconstruction of infrastructure devastated by a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.